7 Tips To Fact Checking eLearning Courses: A Practical Guide For eLearning Professionals

As the famous American writer and satirist, Mark Twain, once said: “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please”. Giving your eLearning audience information that is supported by concrete evidence is part of the eLearning professional's job description. In this article, I'll share 7 tips for fact checking your eLearning courses, so that you can rest assured you’re offering your online learners true and up-to-date subject matter.
7 Tips To Fact Checking eLearning Courses: A Practical Guide For eLearning Professionals

The eLearning Professionals Guide To Fact Checking eLearning Courses

As eLearning professionals, we are charged with the responsibility of providing our audience with verified information that they can count on. After all, if they commit incorrect knowledge to memory this can lead to a myriad of unforeseen complications in the future. This is why it is essential to fact check every piece of online content in your eLearning course. Here are some tips that can help you ensure that every eLearning scenario, online presentation, and text block is based on facts instead of fiction.

  1. Compile a list of go-to resources.
    You probably have already a few go-to sites and other information sources that you use to research your eLearning content. However, you may want to create a list and expand upon it as you move forward, concentrating on fact checking references. To take it a step further, divide the list into different categories based on subject matter or editing steps. For instance, you can have a few sites that center on grammar checking and others that pertain to scientific fact sources.
  2. Check questionable spelling with multiple sources.
    Inevitably, every eLearning professional is going to encounter a word that causes some problems. This is usually due to the fact that it has multiple spelling variations. For example, it may be spelled one way on a news site and another on an encyclopedia page. When this occurs, you may have to resort to checking the spelling using a variety of different sources. Another good rule of thumb is to use Google to do your spell checking for you. Just type the word into the search engine and see how many results show up. If another version of the spelling yields significantly higher results, chances are that’s the correct one. When all else fails, enlist the aid of another eLearning professional to help you make your final decision.
  3. Get creative when it comes to search engine usage.
    Speaking of search engines, they can also become an invaluable fact checking tool, especially if you take a more creative approach. This is because of the algorithm that many search engines utilize, particularly Google. If you use a variety of different word combinations and sub-topics you have the power to collect a wealth of information. For example, rather than just typing in “mammalian biology”, you can opt for “animal classification” in order to fact check your eLearning course about species identification. Broaden your search to find the information you need without having to peruse the web at random.
  4. Be sure to research opposing viewpoints.
    If you are dealing with a complex or controversial subject, then you may want to research alternative viewpoints in order to cover both sides of the story. This can also help to ensure that you get all of your facts straight, instead of relying on just one of the perspectives. Researching opposing viewpoints can also give you the chance to put your information into context and avoid inaccurate or uninformed assumptions. Another advantage of covering both angles of the story is not offending any members of your audience, especially those who believe the eLearning course may be biased.
  5. Triple check all directly quoted facts.
    You should definitely fact check any and all quoted facts that you’ve gathered from third-party sources, even if those sources are completely reliable and credible. You also need to be certain that you are correctly attributing the content and that you have the rights to quote the information in the first place. When in doubt, leave it out. This will help you avoid having to remove the quote from your eLearning course, instead of discovering that it is factually unsupported later on. Triple checking your facts now may be time consuming, but it will help you avoid a great deal of stress and modification of the eLearning course later on.
  6. Pay close attention to simplified technical content.
    In some cases you may have to simplify technical or scientific subject matter that may be too complicated or complex. The primary purpose of this is to make it easier to comprehend for your audience. However, make sure that you don’t complicate matters even more by including errors or vague statements. For example, if you have to paraphrase a complex idea, ensure that you’ve covered all the basic points and that it is accurate and clear.
  7. Always ask the Subject Matter Expert.
    This is, by far, one of the best ways to fact check your eLearning course. The Subject Matter Expert is experienced and has a great deal of information about the topic. Therefore, they should be your go-to resource for knowledge. If you are not sure about a particular fact, then just ask them to clarify and elaborate on the subject. They can also give you an idea about other resources you can rely on, as well as additional facts that may be necessary. You may even want to have them look over the eLearning course during the editing process so that they can identify any errors you have missed and clear up any confusion.

Fact checking your eLearning course thoroughly helps to avoid time-consuming modifications later on and increases the credibility of your eLearning content. Keep in mind that an eLearning course riddled with incorrect information can diminish the overall effectiveness of the eLearning experience.

 
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