6 Tips On How To Start Planning eLearning Courses

6 Tips On How To Start Planning eLearning Courses
Summary: Paul J. Meyer put it brilliantly when he said: “Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” Careful planning has the power to transform ideas into reality. More importantly, it can make your eLearning experiences more organized and effective. In this article, I’ll share 6 top tips on how to start planning your next eLearning course.

How To Start Planning eLearning Courses

Some people might naturally assume that the first step in designing an eLearning course is researching the topic. Others may believe that it’s setting goals or defining expectations. However, the thing that comes before all is hatching a great plan. You have to lay the groundwork and ensure that you have a solid base in order to build a successful eLearning course. Unfortunately, planning eLearning course design isn’t always easy. It takes time, mental focus, and dedication. The good news is that there are 6 tips that can simplify the processs.

1. Prioritize Your Goals

Goals are the road markers on your path to success. They provide you with a clear direction of where you're heading and help track of your progress along the way. Thus, you must prioritize your goals based on importance, deadlines, and learning needs. For example, a module that needs to be delivered before the store's grand opening should be a top priority. On the other hand, an eLearning course that centers on a secondary skill or task can be left until the end. Create a list of your eLearning course goals and objectives on day one, then meet with your eLearning team to rank them. This also allows you to set a schedule for what must be completed and by when. Goal prioritization makes the planning process more manageable, as well. Instead of having to focus on a large, seemingly insurmountable, goal, you can break it down into smaller steps.

2. Create A Skill Map

Skill maps are particularly useful when you're dealing with tasks or complex processes. A skill map is, essentially, a branching mind map that explores all facets of a task. For example, a nurse needs to learn how to bandage a wound. But they also need to know how to communicate with the patient and disinfect the area, that is a sub-task. There are a variety of steps that they must memorize. Not to mention, traits and abilities they must possess in order to do their job effectively. To create a skill map, start with the main task or topic in the center. Then create branches that lead to related skills and talents. These sub-sets can even have branches of their own. After you've mapped out the task, you can develop a module or eLearning activity for each branch.

3. Storyboard Your Way To Success

If goals are the road markers, then eLearning storyboards are the atlas. They provide you with a visual overview of your eLearning course and highlight the key takeaways. The storyboard also gives you the opportunity to sequence your eLearning course modules and activities so that you can ensure cohesiveness. Meet with your eLearning team to gather all of your eLearning resources and create the outline of your eLearning course. Storyboards can feature page snapshots, text descriptions, and a variety of other eLearning content placeholders.

4. Get Your Online Learners On Board

Many eLearning professionals get their audience involved at the end of the process. For example, they might conduct focus groups or surveys just before deploying the eLearning course. However, online learners should be involved in virtually every stage of the eLearning project. Your audience can offer valuable input about your eLearning activities, content, and assessments. Their feedback can point in the right direction and clarify expectations, so that you can provide an effective eLearning experience. Even Learning Management System analytics from your past eLearning projects are an asset. This Big Data reveals what you need to improve, what you did right, and what kind of eLearning content your audience prefers.

5. Pinpoint Your Information Vehicles

Most people assume that the goal of eLearning is to acquire knowledge. But that's actually just the tip of the iceberg. Online learners must also know how to apply knowledge in the real world. Otherwise, the information just sits in their memory banks waiting to be erased. Thus, you have to figure out not only how to convey the information, but also put it into practice. For example, eLearning scenarios, simulations, serious games, and online group collaboration projects involve active recall. Online learners need to combine their preexisting knowledge base and new information to solve the problem. eLearning assessments are also essential information vehicles, because they test online learner comprehension and identify knowledge gaps. Then you can offer your online learners the eLearning resources they need to improve their learning behaviors.

6. Visualize It

Visualizing the finished product is actually one of the most challenging aspects of planning eLearning courses. At the moment, you have raw materials that you need to transform into a high quality eLearning experience. That requires time, dedication, and a very active imagination. Create vision boards that feature the theme, color scheme, and message of your eLearning course. You should also meet with your eLearning team to assign tasks and talk about the collective vision for your eLearning course. Everyone needs to do their part to get the job done. Visualizing how their aspect of the eLearning course will look once it's complete can boost their motivation and drive. Developing learner prototypes and work examples are more tangible alternatives to mental visualizations.

One of the most valuable commodities that eLearning professionals possess is time. You must manage your time, which requires careful planning. In addition to using these 6 tips, be sure to create a detailed schedule for the eLearning project and stick to it. Make the most of your time by budgeting it wisely.