Effective eLearning Course Development
There's no secret formula behind developing powerful eLearning experiences. It's impossible to create an all-inclusive list that highlights each and every element you should include in your eLearning course, because each one is wholly unique. However, in this article I'll share a variety of invaluable tips that can help you develop effective and engaging eLearning courses, regardless of your subject matter or your audience.
- Learn as much as possible about your learners beforehand.
Before you even begin to develop your next eLearning course, you must have a keen understanding of who you are developing it for. This will give you a clear indication of what your learners expect to take away from the eLearning experience and which skill sets or knowledge they need to acquire. Conduct surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews that will give you invaluable information in order to analyze your audience. Then, you can use this information to develop your curriculum and your learning activities based upon their specific learning needs and goals.
- Develop a thorough outline that highlights key objectives.
An outline will serve as a guide as you move forward, a sort of road map that will allow you to keep a close eye on the learning goals and objectives. Be as detailed as possible when creating this outline and make sure that you highlight all of the key aspects of the eLearning course, including the estimated page/slide count, any interactive elements you'd like to integrate, and the main ideas you need to give to your learners.
- Include a variety of learning activities.
One of the most essential eLearning course tips that I can offer you is to remember that not all learners will acquire information the same way. While some might be better served by interactive scenarios and games, others will absorb more knowledge if it's delivered via an audio presentation or graphics. As such, when developing your eLearning course integrate a wide range of learning activities. It's important to remember that not all learners are going to benefit from the same exercises and activities, so mix things up and try to include a number of different exercises and activities that serve every member of your audience.
- Keep the learning experience digestible.
Cognitive overload is the enemy of all eLearning professionals. When this occurs, information simply cannot be absorbed and retained effectively, which means that the eLearning course cannot possibly offer your learner any real value. Therefore, you'll need to keep everything in bite-sized form, so that your learners are able to digest the information they need and commit it to their long term memory for later use. Don't fill the page with an abundance of graphics or images just for the sake of aesthetic appeal. Instead, opt for more white space, bullet point text, and bolded captions for emphasis.
- Take full advantage of eLearning authoring tools.
Thanks to constantly evolving eLearning technologies, eLearning professionals now have a myriad of eLearning authoring tools available to them. You should be using every tool at your disposal to create meaningful learning experiences for your learners. Gather all your eLearning authoring tools and any other design aid you may have, before developing your eLearning course and figure out how you can take the full advantage of them. Moreover, research about any additional eLearning authoring tool that can save you time and resources during the development process.
- Assessments aren't just for the end of the course.
As any eLearning professional will attest, assessments are essential to the eLearning process. However, instead of just placing them at the end of your eLearning course, why not integrate them after each module, in order to boost knowledge retention? They can serve as great recaps and reviews for your learners, giving them the opportunity to brush up on key concepts and to absorb information more effectively. Also, try to get creative when developing your assessments. Include a wide range of question formats (multiple choice, true/false, essay, etc) and make them interactive, if possible. For instance, you can create an assessment that includes a scenario or real world example that make the experience more powerful and memorable.
- Tie everything into real world benefits.
Every single aspect of your eLearning course, from the multimedia elements to the learning activities, must offer your learners real world value. So, when developing the eLearning course, always stay focused on the real world benefits that each module is going to offer your learners. How does the subject matter tie into a real world context, and what information can you give your learners that will help them to achieve their personal and/or professional goals? Scenarios, simulations, games, and real world stories from your personal experience are all perfect examples of learning activities that give your learners the opportunity to make choices that they might encounter in the real world, and to learn about the consequences (good or bad) of those choices in a risk-free environment. Ideally, you should inform the learners of the real world benefits that they can expect to receive at the introduction of the eLearning course, and then remind them periodically, so they can stay motivated and excited about the learning process.
Keep these tips for effective eLearning course development at-the-ready to create eLearning experiences that are always on target and offer your audience the skills and knowledge they need to reach their personal and professional goals.
Before you begin developing your online course, it's best to have a clear idea of how much time it will take to create an effective and entertaining eLearning deliverable. The article How to Estimate Your eLearning Course Development Time offers 6 top tips for estimating your eLearning course development time.