The key to creating a successful e-learning course lies in the ability to turn even the most complicated or common topic into a learner engaging experience. One of the main goals of each course is to make the knowledge stick with learners in effective way for as long as possible. So all content should be developed in accordance with the specific features of the target group – age, sex, location, vocational training, prior e-learning experience. Following the trends in e-learning is also quite important. Taking this into account when developing your course means that you are on the right track. But the key to a really successful e-learning development is to include at least some of the following elements and approaches.
Approaches to an Outstanding E-Learning Course
Developing an attractive e-learning course is a process that requires time, ideas and certain skills. Even the most experienced instructors don’t simply open the e-learning software and start typing outstanding content that perfectly fits the design that they have in mind. There is a stage of preparing the necessary attributes of a course and at this point there are several approaches that will make your job successful.
To be innovative means not to copy what others do or offer. When it comes to e-learning you must successfully combine knowledge, curiosity and imagination, and provoke the learner. Innovation can be implemented in the content and in the design and form of the e-learning course. You’ll get the best results when you include both. If you can offer a larger knowledge repository to your learners you will empower them with a tool for creating new ideas and concepts, which will lead to further innovation. When this approach is applied to company training the final results may be amazing – better product quality, increased productivity, improved outcome.
Authentic e-learning means taking the ideas out of the written words and transferring them into real life. This is the practical application of learning. You can make your course authentic by including case studies and real-life scenarios (see below) in your program or by involving your learners to create them. You can task your students to develop portfolios and projects that can be applied in real situations or to make a certain product depending on your course – a meal if it is a cooking class, a weekly budget spreadsheet if it is finance, etc. The best will be if you manage to combine them both in a creative way.
When you are developing your e-learning course the focus should be on the people you want to teach and not so much on the teaching itself. The specifications of the target group should be accounted for and each module of the program should try to promote active participation on behalf of the learners. To make your students feel involved in the process include the possibility of live contact – chat rooms, video or teleconferencing, discussion forums etc. Active learners are engaged learners who will excel in their performance once the training is over.
Creating an attractive and easy to follow e-learning course is a process that requires further iterations. A good instructor knows that there is always something that can be improved or changed for the better. It is important to pay attention to what has worked and what was not accepted very well. Always ask your students for feedback and even have a fellow instructor or other expert on the topic review your material before offering it to the public. Stay open to learning while you are teaching the others.
Elements of a Rewarding E-Learning Experience
To make the e-learning experience unique for the students you can include several elements that will make the course active, innovative and authentic. You can choose one or two of the suggestions below for your next project. Be careful not to overload it with too many activities so the focus will remain on educating
- Micro Videos
Including videos in an e-learning module helps you better illustrate some ideas or certain situations. It is not necessary for them to be long to convey the message. On the contrary, quite often a shorter video is better accepted by the audience. Use some tools to make your videos interactive and more engaging. You can include knowledge checks, feedback, or learning interactions to make the learners active participants in the story.
Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. The concept has gained popularity in the field of education and is extremely suitable for e-learning modules. You can opt for having your entire course gamified and your learners will need to overcome challenges, climb up levels with different difficulty, receive badges and points. You can also go for a partial gamification just for certain tasks or assignments. The process may feature virtual reality and mobile technology. The aim is to make the course active, attractive and unique for the learners.
- Story-based learning
The story-based approach in learning has proven its advantages over time. It improves the quality of learning and enhances the learners’ engagement in the subject matter. The fictional narrative has a beginning, a body, and an end and can evolve into several story lines. The students become part of the plot and immerse into the fictional world created for them. For your e-learning course to be successful, however, you should avoid any redundant material that deviates from the content and has little or no contribution to the training process.
- Scenario-based learning
Similar to the story-based approach, the scenario-based learning simulates real-life situations in order to build critical thinking skills. The method can be used for presenting unusual, unsafe, or rare work-related tasks to build the necessary skills and expertise in the learners. The students are presented with real-life situations or problems that need to be solved to achieve their goals. The approach focuses on improving the cognitive skills of the learners and allows adding an emotional element for deeper engagement. Scenario-based learning is very suitable for company training programs. It allows simulating a situation in which the decision the learners take affects them or their colleagues directly. Thus, the learners gain valuable real-life experience under the protection of the training course.
If you have managed to incorporate most of the elements and approaches listed above into your e-learning course you can expect a great return in terms of investment and learners’ retention. To further improve your product and reach broader markets we suggest translating it into several languages using the professional services of e-learning localization experts.
Sources: 3 A’s and an I for Excellent eLearning Design by Sylvia Eastman, retrieved from eThink
Top 5 Tips for Innovative eLearning Development by Asha Pandey, retrieved from The eLearning Industry