You've been tasked with developing your first eLearning course. Now what?
Let us help you get with it and nail each aspect of the content development process.
Probably you are wondering if there is one perfect roadmap for relevant and engaging eLearning content. However, given that the variables of each project make each session unique, it is difficult to box elements into one plan.
Varying factors include:
- The size of your team
- Amount of content
- The subject at hand and ideal delivery content
- The audience’s knowledge or understanding of the course
- Your business goals
These differences will affect the direction of the course. That said, rest assured there is a silver lining. Although the intricacies of the roadmap are not standard, several guidelines can provide the foundation for compelling content and a well-structured course.
Tip #1- Setting the Bulls' Eye: Forming Your Learning Objectives
By definition, objectives are basic tools that underlie all planning and strategic activities.To accurately guide you through the stages of content development, your learning objective needs to be defined early on and must be crystal clear. Mainly, it’s going to come down to identifying the performance or skill that the learner needs to achieve to be competent in their role.
This statement will serve as the foundation for instructional material. This frame will provide your team with the direction to select and organize content without hesitation. When the outcome is clear, it’s easier to determine the ingredients you’ll need.
Some tips for writing your learning objectives:
Use simple language and measurable verbs.
Remember to be clear about the knowledge or skill gap that you are hoping to fill. List specific and measurable elements that the learner will have to master upon completion.
Make sure you are clear about what will they gain by taking this course.
Important! Keep the learning outcomes in mind at all stages of designing a course. Whether you are chunking content, designing activities, planning assessments, or choosing images, you have to remember that every element in your course should align with the learning outcomes.
Tip #2- Consulting the Crowd: Pinpointing Gaps
Questions, assessment, and focus groups often reveal insightful information. You can also survey your audience to learn more about their backgrounds and experience levels. Having your learners take a pre-assessment can inform you that most of your online learners share a skill gap.
Knowing this can allow you to supply additional information or resources to specific areas for improvement. Why?
- Not all learners start from the same place. This will help you determine where those gaps are.
- Not all learners will acquire information the same way. You may acquire insights to how to deliver the knowledge that they lack.
Pre-assessments help you identify what learners already know, need to know, and how you should deliver the information. After reviewing your objectives, your team should focus on researching the audience’s needs as a priority. These insights coupled with your learning objectives will formulate the strategy for success.
Tip #3- Planning is key
If you are just back from a session with the SME, you are possibly armed with a lot of information that he or she thinks is crucial to learn about the subject. Think twice before dumping it all on the learner. Your SME is undoubtedly an authority on the subject, but you are the training expert. You know the learning outcomes of your course. Best, you know the expectations of your learners.
To begin, create a list of significant topics and sub-points. Still amiss about what to include, here are some points you must enlist too:
- A list of "Must Know" content (critical to achieve the learning outcomes).
- “Should Know” content which is concepts that the learner needs to understand as a core part of the training course (important background information that you can give away as handouts)
- A list of “Nice To Know” content which adds value to the understanding of the subject, but the learner can do without these points.
Listing out topics is an essential way to help your team visualize and scope each lesson. Be as detailed as possible about your main ideas when creating this list of topics so that it highlights all of the key aspects of your course. Be sure to include an estimate of slides, screens, and interactive elements you'd like to incorporate into the course. Integrating each of these points will help your team avoid redundancies and irrelevancies.
HOT TIP! During this stage, experts advise that you gather your team and stakeholders to review and evaluate the relevant topics. This step will be instrumental in identifying which content is missing.
Here are some tips on how to draft your course outline:
- Think about the topic and all it conveys. Once you’ve created a list that is thorough you can start grouping like steps into sections or modules.
- Break your course topic down to steps.
- Then, you’ll need to buff each individual step out further. Basically, turn the goals established in point one into subtopics/sections. Create at least 3, but no more than 8 titles that make up the “modules" or sections of the course.
- Decide how you’ll present your content. As you fill out the steps, decide whether you’d rather create a screen with bullet–points or a talking head video that shows your audience what you’re trying to teach them.
- Plan your intro carefully too. The first minutes of your course are key to grab attention!
Plan practice activities and assessments.
- With each proposed lesson, refer back to the learning objectives; say true to what your learner needs to know.
Tip #4- Always Conduct a Content Inventory
It makes perfect sense to know exactly what you have in the inventory, regarding existing content, before starting out on any new project. The opportunities for reusing and repurposing existing content, text, images, and video are endless, once you know exactly what you currently hold in your repository.
Go down your list and check off the items you have available in your company and highlight the ones that are missing. Why should you do this? The benefits are obvious, but we will list them out happily:
- Reviewing the material you already have ( it can be PDFs, Powerpoint presentations or any other material available) and identifying what needs to be created will provide your team with some direction.
- When you realize how much information you already have at your disposal, you will have a better idea of how much development time you saved.
Once you have certain content available, here are some questions that you can run this material by:
- Is this material outdated, incomplete, inaccurate or un-engaging?
- Is there any feedback available on how it performed?
- What isn’t working with the current program?
- What was missing from this content?
Separately, some questions that you can run this material by can include:
- What don’t employees know that they should?
- Without letting the existing content dictate the new material, how can this new content be coupled with the previous information?
Tip #5 - Working Smoothly with SME's to Translate their Knowledge into Engaging Content
Working with an SME (Subject Matter Expert) is vital to get the right information down. Working together, you can collect the most crucial information needed to align with all the objectives and points listed above.
The thing to keep in mind when working with SMEs is being particular about what you want. This detailed communication is essential to have before meeting with the SMEs.
You can do this by providing a questionnaire, that way everyone can provide insights and feedback.
This post highlights an actionable roadmap for engaging SMEs and collecting their require information so that you can develop quality content on time and within budget.
Tip #6 - Design Last, Storyboard First
To avoid overloading your audience with irrelevant content, it’s imperative to organize your content. Use storyboarding to determine the direction of content, without trying to load too many concepts into one course. With a storyboard, you can maintain an outline while you create your course. This level of organization ensures you include all main points without venturing into less important topics.
Storyboarding brings all the elements that will make up the elearning course together. Much like a story, each element contribute to the understanding of the next, creating an narration for a lesson or feeling of resolve in the end.
With the use of Powerpoint or your own storyboarding tool, your process can go a little like this:
- Write your course title; make this brief, but descriptive.
- Write your course overview, here you’ll want to list key points from your learning objectives
- Use the text and images in your screens. Make sure any visuals you include add impact.
- How-To’s need to be done right. Make sure that each sequence is clear and provide additional resources in case the learner is interested in reading more.
- Use real life scenarios and brief examples to illustrate application of the skills being learned.
HOT TIP: When building your storyboard, always think about the application. How will learners apply what they have learned from your design?
Follow the list of guidelines shared above to design a great learning experience which will leave a lasting impression on learners as you help them grow into their role.
Though there are variants among subjects and audiences, these content creation guidelines will work wonders on keeping your team (and content) in check!