Creating an E learning course which will provide value addition to the learners and at the same time be simple enough for them to grasp and flexible enough to follow, is not easy-peasey. Following the well-acclaimed best practices and imbibing various facets of an effective E-learning program calls for a highly planned and focused approach.
It’s a multi-tiered process, involving layers of reiterations and corrections. You cannot get it perfect in one shot.
Here are some pointers that will help you to set your course of action.
1. Study the target audience: Every communication needs to be moulded according to the receiver; and e-learning is no different. The instructional design will be most effective if we are well aware of the understanding level, prior knowledge and experience of the learners. The target audience can be any of the following categories:
2. Choose the delivery mode: There can be several delivery modes, depending upon the accessibility of learners, their location and time convenience. Since e-learning provides flexibility of learning platform, you can create the courses to suit the distribution platform. Mobile phones, tablets, laptops are the most commonly used delivery devices for e-learning. The features which you integrate in the course and module length will vary according to the device.
3. Framework of the course: The best e-learning courses are built on a framework that is revised several times. Instead of going ahead with the entire research and development at one go, you must first plan the structure of the course, and discuss it with the team that will receive training. It might be possible that there are some more points that need to be imbibed or some topics are redundant. Making these changes at the framework level will help you to finally put up an excellent course module which serves the purpose.
4. Clarify learning objectives: At the outset, the objective of preparing the corporate e-learning course must be clear. There can be following motives of an online module:
5. Make it engaging: Enabling learners to participate in the learning process is a great way to make the course successful. When there are ways in which people can contribute to the course, they will feel more involved and will be likely to complete the course in a disciplined manner. Moreover, you can incorporate forums and discussion boards, on which participants can leave comments, interact with fellow learners, discuss relevant topics and provide feedback. Being present on these forums helps instruction designers to understand the problems and reactions of participants.
6. Include games and rewards: Games that reward learners with bonus points or additional incentive make the course highly interactive. You must plan to incorporate games that are relevant to the module and gives real time simulative experience to learners. The game can be planned with levels, which the learners will have to clear to reach the end of the course.
7. Revision and feedback: Going through the course content in an encapsulated manner is essential. Hence, including summaries, preferably with bullet points, is important. Moreover, you must ask good questions, which prompt learners to think innovatively. Open ended questions, alongside multiple choice questions, enable people to think ‘out of the box’ and find unique solutions. Variation in pattern of questions is also important.
8. Easy navigation: The navigation must be simple and non restrictive. This implies that participants must be free to move back and forth in the course. In case they want to go back to a chapter, or check out the quiz part before completing the module, the navigation must allow them to do so. The buttons and icons used should be clearly visible, throughout the course material as well as in the evaluation part.
9. Use of case studies: Using case studies to explain concepts or develop work skills with the help of characters (avatar) inbuilt in the module is an innovative approach for instructional design. Moreover, with case studies, learners can experience simulation and get involved with the course. Presenting a scenario which is close to real life situation helps learners identify with it and apply the learning practically.
10. Be crisp and clear: Sticking to a timeframe while designing an online course is a must. Lengthy modules tend to get boring and learners cannot concentrate. Keeping each module 10 to 15 minutes long is a good idea. Also, limit your modules to cover only one central idea/ technology/concept. This way, learners will grasp more and know in depth about each topic.
Keeping these ’10 commandments’ of effective e-learning course design is imperative in order to create an unmatched course.
Mike Cornell and Emma Jones are behind the success of Elearning Blog, a blog solely focused on providing free resources and tips for e-learning.