How To Prepare Engaging eLearning Content
Here are some steps to help you prepare, create, and deliver engaging eLearning courses.
Regardless of whether you’re creating your own content or you’re investing in an Instructional Designer to do so, you’re going to have to outline a plan for your course content. The first step in creating your course is to identify the learning outcomes or goals that you want learners to achieve. Identify specific goals rather than general ones. These goals will then form the framework for your course content. Don’t forget to focus on your target audience. What do they need to know or demonstrate on completing the course?
Learning through technology should be an immersive, informative, and fun experience. If your course doesn’t engage your learners, or overloads them with information, those all-important learning goals are not going to be achieved. Structure your content by dividing it into modules and learning paths so that there’s an achievable path for your learner to follow.
You need to think about what format to deliver the content in as this will sway you to one platform over another. Dedicating time to carefully planning and organizing your course content will make it easier for your learners to work through it.
You’ve finalized the course structure and identified the content you need so now it’s time to start creating that content. People learn in different ways so it’s worth offering your course in a range of formats to appeal to a different learning styles and environments. You could offer a detailed PDF guide to accompany a PowerPoint presentation or short video tutorials. If you are using video with audio you may consider including subtitles.
It’s important to consider how your learners are going to access the content: through a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. Desktop-based learning calls for more traditional eLearning formats such as PDF, PowerPoint, SCORM, etc. Creating content for mLearning, where users access the content via their tablet or mobile phone, calls for short, concise content, such as 2 to 3 minute long videos.
Keep text content to the point. Cater for people who scan through large sections of text on screen by highlighting the most important elements so that these stand out. Similarly with video, break the content into short digestible sections so learners can take a break to process the content and will be less likely to lose interest. Build stories and games into your content to engage learners. Adding a knowledge check in the form of a short quiz at the end of modules incentivizes learners to pay attention and also reinforces learning.
The content needs to be visually appealing to hold the learner’s attention. Little details like consistent font size and type are important. There are lots of video and presentation platforms that will allow you to deliver your courses in interesting ways. YouTube and PowerPoint are probably the most well-known, but Vimeo and Wistia for video content and Prez for interactive presentations are just as effective and easy to integrate once they are supported by your Learning Management System.
Before you rush to enroll learners, make sure you test the course in different browsers with different user types to identify content related and technical issues. Ask test users for their feedback on the course. Their insight will allow to revise and refine your content. In addition, remember that the look and feel of your Learning Management System will impact learner engagement and therefore on the results you achieve. Be sure to select a Learning Management System that can be easily customized and branded with your look and feel.
How are you going to know if the learning outcomes have been achieved? Assessment results from questions and quizzes as well as post course assignments will allow you to identify if the content is engaging learners and delivering on the learning goals you set out in the preparation stage. If learners are abandoning your course before successfully completing it, progress reports will allow you to identify where you are losing them. Don’t discard this data; analyze it to figure out how you can improve the course around the high drop-out points so that you can hold onto these learners.
eLearning course content is a moving target. Update your courses regularly by asking your learners to complete a survey or review so you can get their feedback. Make sure you select a Learning Management System that includes this feature, meaning you can easily build this into your course. You can then use this information to improve your courses. If you don’t have the technical skills to produce your own eLearning content, then contract an eLearning instructional designer to create it for you. They’ll have the expertise needed to turn your offline training materials into effective and engaging eLearning content.