How To Design An Effective eLearning Course (Part 1/2)
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Effective eLearning Course: Design With These Components In Mind

How many eLearning courses have you designed and are sitting on the shelves!

It’s very disappointing to spend money and time designing a course and not use it because it’s not as effective as expected and doesn’t do what it is designed for.

Instructional Design experts say that to design an effective eCourse, keep your eyes on those 5 main components:  the audience, course structure, page design, content engagement, and usability.

To make it easier for the reader, I will split the content over two articles. In this article, I will only address the first 2: audience and course structure.

1. Audience

Design the course with your audience in your mind. The main key to success is to deliver what needed. And you need to know what the learners want. Before you start to design a course, you must perform an audience analysis.

To perform a good analysis ask yourself these questions:

What Are Your Learners’ Desired Outcomes?

You need to understand what are the needs of your learners, why are they taking this course, what do they expect to learn at the end? You can perform a survey or ask the learners what are their expectations after finishing this course. This information will help you to create the course objectives and to make sure that the course contents are aligned with those objectives. All this information must be known to you before you start designing your course.

What Are The Course Prerequisites?

Is the course a part of a learning path or is it an individual course? What is the required knowledge that the users must have before they attend this course? Is this course for beginners or experts? Who will attend the course? Are they managers or technical people? What is their educational background? What is the age of the learners? I know some people may consider this an improper question, but you need to know this information because designing a course for adults is different than designing a course for teenagers or even young kids.

What Is The Learning Environment?

You have to understand how the learners are going to take their training. Are they going to take it online or onsite? Are they going to take it through their laptop or will they use their mobile phones to access the training material? What is the software and hardware that the learners have? Understanding this information will help you choose the right format for your course.

Knowing the answers to the above questions, you will be able to have a good overview of your audience.

2. Course Structure

The concept of course structure includes the topics and their sequences through the course. It’s very important to organize the learning material in a good sequence to deliver the course objective. One of the tools that Instructional Designers use is storyboarding. It’s a very powerful tool, as it helps them have a clear vision about the sequence of the course and whether the size of each lesson is big or small.

Remember that delivering a small piece of information in each lesson is better. It will encourage the learners to continue learning. Now here are some tips to help you structure your course best.

Avoid Creating Long Modules

If you are making PowerPoints don’t exceed 10 slides per module and if you are creating videos make it from 3 to 20 minutes maximum. Remember, human brains cannot remain focused for longer than 20 minutes, so you need to keep your material short to allow a good retention for the information. You can read more about the microlearning and neuroscience.

Use Graphics

You can always include graphics that explain an idea/concept or statement. Every graph or picture should have a purpose. I encourage you also to include infographics in your training; it’s easier to remember a graph than written words.

Proper Use Of An Interactive Concept

Your course structure should have a proper amount of interactivity. Remember to add an exercise or any source of activities within your course, but be aware that too many activities will diffuse your learners. So make sure to include the proper amount. You can use one major activity per module as a rule.