What is Important to Create the Best eLearning Courses?
eLearning doesn’t just “happen”! It requires careful planning and implementation.” – Anonymous
E-learning plays an important role in helping large organizations and educational institutions fulfill their learning and training requirements. Reduced production costs, ease of tracking and the obvious technological advantages, have made it imperative that all organizations make e-learning an integral part of their training. What makes for a good e-learning piece? Instructional designers and course developers should consider the aspects which help create an effective e-learning experience. Let us look at some aspects that contribute towards making a good e-learning course.
- Goal of E-learning
Before deciding on the design and delivery of any e-learning module, be sure to answer the question WHY do you need to create e-learning for your organization or institution. This step aims to analyze and identify the need for training and the context in which it should happen. As an organization or an educational institution what is it that you want to achieve by putting content in the form of e-learning? This step is most important since it also helps define the scope of learning, amount of content to be covered and give a definite seat time to the e-learning module.
- Needs Assessment
Effective e-learning is based on the learning needs of learners. What do you hope that the learners will achieve through this e-learning module? How do you want them to get from where they are right now to where they want to be, in terms of performance? Identify these and the measures that should be taken to fill those gaps.
Course creators are given a lot of content to be converted into online training material. And there is often little thought spared towards the actual needs of learners. It is thus, essential to understand learners, their learning environment, how much do they already know (entry behavior), how much time can they spend on this learning and so on. A thorough understanding of this basic concept dictates the design of e-learning.
- Combination of good design and development
A great e-learning course is a combination of good design and efficient course development. The learning design has to be intuitive keeping the learners at the center of all design. An e-learning module which leaves the learners unsure and hesitant to move around is demotivating. Sometimes software limitations also force designers to alter their design. Hence, understanding the course building software beforehand also helps in designing and customizing the course accordingly.
- Real-world references
Another important aspect of building a good e-learning course is to base the design on the real, every-day world of the learners. For example, if you are creating an e-learning course for marketing professionals in the medical device field; the design, the references, the examples should be based on their experiences in the professional world. This makes the learners keen to explore since it reflects their every-day issues and problems. They are engaged better and are willing to learn to improve their performance.
Assessment measures should be a part of the e-learning module. When learners are aware of what they will be assessed upon, the measurable objectives they need to achieve and the focus of the e-learning module, they feel involved and more in control of their learning. The assessment helps gauge the effectiveness of the e-learning piece as well as learner retention. This also gives valuable information of learner metrics and measurable learner performance. A robust learning management system fulfills most of these requirements and should be a considered before you start building the e-learning module.
In an ideal world, time would not be considered to make a perfect e-learning module. In reality, all projects are time-bound, with the end result controlled by the financial value it can offer. It is important to identify these timelines so that an effective e-learning solution can be created. For example, a module about product features and selling strategy just before the product launch has a high learning value. Releasing the module after its launch, reduces its usability and learner retention.