The 6 Essential Steps Of The eLearning Development Process

The 6 Essential Steps Of The eLearning Development Process
Summary: The article will talk about the 6 essential phases that the eLearning development process must undergo – right from creation of the Instructional Design Document to creation of the Learning Management System version.

eLearning Development Process: The Essential Steps

There are 6 common phases that any eLearning development process must undergo. What are they, why are they important, and where in the development process do they fit in?

The Instructional Design (ID) world has been influenced by a fair share of Instructional Design models such as the ADDIE Model, D. Carey and J. Carey’s Model, Gagne’s nine-step model, and SAM - the latest one. While the Instructional Design model followed by each organization differs, the model itself is followed quite rigidly. This is not the case with the eLearning development process; each organization follows its own process – one that fits into its way of functioning. But even with each company following its own eLearning development process, there are some common phases  that must be followed.

The 6 common phases that all eLearning development processes must go through are:

  1. Creation of the Instructional Design Document (IDD).
  2. Scripting.
  3. Development of a prototype.
  4. Development of the course without audio.
  5. Development of the course with audio.
  6. Creation of the Learning Management System version of the course.

Let’s take a brief look at these 6 common phases.

Phase #1: Creation Of The Instructional Design Document (IDD)

The IDD is a high level plan of the overall instructional approach of the course. Stakeholders and the Instructional Design team sign off on the global instructional approach – some common approaches are problem solving, avatars, and scenarios.

It is also decided how the content must be broken down – into courses, modules, and even screens. If several courses are to be created, and each course is to be created using a different Instructional Design strategy, these must be dealt with in the IDD. The instructional and visual elements are finalized at this stage.

Phase #2: Scripting

The content to be used for each course is broadly finalized and divided into modules; and the content for each screen within a module is decided on.

The interactivities, assessments, activities, and resources for each module are finalized. The narrative script (if used) is finalized as well. The scripting document is usually a Word document, although a PowerPoint presentation works just as well.

Phase #3: Development Of A Prototype

This is a complete representation of the entire course in just a few slides. The onscreen content and the audio script are created and finalized. Important elements that will be used in the course are picked out and a functional prototype is created. Decisions are made and finalized regarding how content is going to be presented onscreen, the interactivities to be used, the activities/assessments to be added, colors, images, animations, and the additional resources to be provided.

A lot of writing, rewriting, and revisions take place during this stage. The prototype should be functional on the Learning Management System.

Phase  #4: Development Of The course Without Audio

During this phase, a fully functional course without audio is presented to the stakeholders, for their approval. Even at this stage, stakeholders tend to make changes to the content, narration, animations, etc.

It is expensive to create audio and then recreate it with iterations. So the audio file is not created until the audio script is finalized.

Phase  #5: Development Of The Course With Audio

Once the audio script is finalized (the previous step), a fully functional course with the audio is sent to the stakeholders for approval. When the audio is developed, it is synchronized with the animations and onscreen text; audio quality and pronunciations are important, and must be checked to make sure it is right.

Phase  #6: Creation Of The Learning Management System Version

While the first 5 phases of the eLearning development process are mostly creative in nature, this final step is the mechanical and more technical part of creating an eLearning course. Once the stakeholders signoff on the course, the course (AICC/SCORM/XAPI compliant version) is ready to be hosted on the learning platform and go "live". This is taken care of by the technical team.

Final Word

One of the reasons these phases are followed by eLearning organizations is for the sake of the stakeholders. The stakeholders are involved at every stage of the development of the eLearning course. The eLearning development team does not proceed to the next phase of development until the stakeholders approve the previous phase. As a result, there are less iterations to be made, less frustration, and greater satisfaction –because at the end of the day, the stakeholders get a course they are happy with– one that has been approved by them at every stage of development; and learners get a course that helps them learn.

For more on the eLearning development process and a detailed approach to creating successful eLearning courses, download the free eBook created by successful eLearning designers titled Instructional Design 101: A Handy Guide for eLearning Designers.