How to Design eLearning Courses With Long Shelf Life
Designing an eLearning course for today's learners is a challenging feat all by itself. However, if you truly want to make your eLearning course relevant and relatable for future learners, the process of designing eLearning courses with long shelf life can prove to be even more difficult. The good news is that in this article you'll find a range of simple and straightforward tips for how to remove the shelf life limitations of your eLearning course.
- Don't date your content.
If you aren't planning on constantly updating your eLearning course, then you'll want to avoid dating your content. For example, avoid words like “recently” or mentioning current events that might not necessarily be hot topics in the near future. Including references that date your eLearning course will give your learners the impression that it may not be relevant or updated, or that your materials are obsolete and won't offer them any real value. If at all possible, include examples, stories, or articles that are “evergreen” or aren't going to lose their relevancy for the foreseeable future.
- Opt for consistent, trend-free images.
There are two key rules to bear in mind when integrating images into eLearning courses with long shelf life. Firstly, you'll want to avoid using stock images that contain trends that might date the eLearning course. For example, if you include photographs of people wearing a hairstyle or wardrobe that may be a fashionable fad today, your learners tomorrow will automatically be able to tell when the eLearning course was created, and, as a result, begin to doubt that it will offer them any real benefit. Second, the “rule” is that consistency is key. Decide whether you are going to go with graphic representations of people or objects, photographs, cartoons, illustrations, etc., and how each blends with your branding and your subject matter. eLearning courses with long shelf live are cohesive, well organized, and achieve a professional look and feel.
- Use easily updated eLearning software.
Even if you aren't planning on updating your eLearning course on a regular basis, it's always best to be prepared for the unexpected, and choose an eLearning authoring tool and a Learning Management System that allow for quick and convenient updates. For example, if you find that there are certain resources or key ideas that will not be relevant in a year's time, you'll want to be able to easily integrate new content in order to ensure that your eLearning course is valuable for your future audience.
- Schedule periodic assessments of the eLearning course.
Every now and then, depending upon your available resources, you may want to think about conducting a periodic assessment for your eLearning course. For instance, every two years you could hold a focus group, interviews, or surveys to determine which elements of your eLearning course may need to be updated, and to gauge whether it is still relevant and useful for today's audience. This can also help you to extend the eLearning course shelf life without having to start a new one from scratch, given that you have the opportunity to simply fine tune various elements of your eLearning course to ensure its longevity.
- Keep up to date with the latest technologies that can improve your eLearning course.
If you want your eLearning course to be competitive in the market, then you'll need to take full advantage of new and emerging technologies. This means that all of your graphics, audio, multimedia, presentations, and video elements include the latest and greatest technology you have at your disposal. The simple truth is that learners, regardless of the niche, subject matter, or learning goals, expect to be impressed by the eLearning course. They want to be “wowed” by the interactive components you've designed or blown over by the quality of your content. They want their eLearning courses to be more informative, more rapidly delivered, and more professionally designed than the eLearning courses they have taken in the past. As such, you'll need to know not only which tools to use to meet (and hopefully surpass) their expectations, but how to use these tools most effectively.
- Ensure the longevity of interactive elements.
Your eLearning course should be just as relevant a year from now as it is today. To achieve this, the interactive elements you've included in your design must be up-to-date, but the concepts should be “timeless”. If you are integrating simulations or scenarios that boost the interactivity of your eLearning course, then be sure that their core ideas, decisions, and principles are going to be relevant in the long run. Also, avoid using graphics or elements in your interactive elements that will take away from experience by disengaging your learner and interrupting their immersion. Interactive elements are supposed to create an emotional connection with your learners. They are meant to relate with the characters and be made aware of the real world benefits offered by your eLearning course. However, if you include graphics or ideas that have a limited shelf life, then you are limiting the shelf life of your entire eLearning course and will not benefit your future learners.
These tips for how to design eLearning courses with long shelf life can allow you to develop an eLearning strategy that will be just as beneficial for future learners as they are for your learners today.
If you are currently in the process of designing your eLearning course, you will definitely need to know about the common mistakes that eLearning professionals make. Read the article Top 11 eLearning Mistakes That eLearning Professionals Should Avoid to find tips that will allow you to circumvent the pitfalls of eLearning design and development.