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Develop eLearning

“What is eLearning?” “How should learning designers prepare their clients for eLearning development?” “What best practices should learning designers follow when writing audio and video scripts?” “What best practices should learning designers follow when developing storyboards?”

"What content authoring tools are commonly used to develop eLearning courses?" “What common mistakes should learning designers avoid when developing eLearning?”

Learning designers are often drawn to eLearning design and development, which enables organizations to provide consistent learning experiences across geographically dispersed audiences. The complexity of eLearning courseware varies greatly, from simple “page turners” (where learners click through a series of text-based screens) to intricate simulations that provide personalized feedback.

Through this lesson, you should be able to develop a simple eLearning course.

What is eLearning?

eLearning, short for electronic learning, refers to the delivery of educational content and training through digital technologies such as computers, tablets, and smartphones, over the internet or through other electronic means. It is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of digital educational tools, such as online courses, educational videos, webinars, virtual classrooms, digital simulations, and other online resources.

eLearning provides learners with the flexibility to learn at their own pace and in their own time, which makes it an attractive option for people who cannot attend traditional classroom-based education or training. It also allows learners to access educational content from anywhere in the world, as long as they have an internet connection.

eLearning has become increasingly popular in recent years due to the widespread availability of digital technologies, the rise of remote work, and the need for lifelong learning in a rapidly changing job market. It has also become a crucial tool for organizations and businesses to train their employees, as it can be more cost-effective and efficient than traditional classroom-based training.

How should learning designers prepare their clients for eLearning development?

At the start of the Develop phase of an eLearning project, learning designers should review the project plan and set clear expectations with clients regarding each task. By discussing and setting expectations for each step in the development process, clients will have a better understanding of what to expect and will be more likely to be satisfied with the final product.

At a minimum, learning designers should set expectations for the following at the start of the Development phase:

  1. Preparing templates and style guides: The first step in eLearning development is often to prepare templates and style guides. Templates provide a consistent layout and structure for the course, while style guides ensure that the content is consistent in terms of font, color, and tone. When preparing clients for this step, it is important to explain the purpose of templates and style guides, and how they will help to create a cohesive and professional-looking course.

  2. Gathering and writing content: Once the templates and style guides are in place (or while they are under development), it is time to curate or create content. This may involve conducting research, interviewing subject matter experts, and organizing the information into a logical sequence. When preparing clients for this step, it is important to emphasize the importance of having accurate and relevant content, as well as the expected time commitment for filling this role.

  3. Scripting and producing audio and videos: In some cases, eLearning courses may include audio and/or videos to help illustrate key points or concepts. This step involves scripting and production. When preparing clients for this step, it is important to discuss the process of creating media, including the scriptwriting process, filming, editing, and post-production. It is also important to discuss the role that the client may play in this step, such as providing feedback on the script or participating in the recording or filming process.

  4. Creating storyboards and building courseware: Once the content and videos are complete, the next step is to create storyboards and build the courseware. Storyboards are visual representations of each screen in the course, while courseware is the actual programming and coding that brings the course to life. When preparing clients for this step, it is important to explain the purpose of storyboards and courseware, and how they work together to create an engaging and interactive eLearning experience.

  5. Facilitating client review cycles: Throughout the eLearning development process, it is important to facilitate client review cycles to ensure that the course is meeting their expectations. These review cycles may include alpha, beta, and gold stages, depending on the complexity of the course and the needs of the client. When preparing clients for this step, it is important to discuss how feedback will be gathered and incorporated into the course (e.g. review meetings, track changes and comments, and/or change logs).

What best practices should learning designers follow when scripting audio and video?

Learning designers play a critical role in creating effective audio and video content for educational and training purposes. The nature and length of audio and video will vary greatly based on the needs of the eLearning courseware and its audience. However, to give you some context, take a moment to review the sample video script below.

When writing audio and video scripts, keep the following tips in mind:

What best practices should learning designers follow when developing storyboards?

eLearning storyboards are visual representations of the content, structure, and design of an eLearning course. They serve as a blueprint for the development of the eLearning course and help to ensure that the content is organized and presented in a logical, engaging, and effective manner. The storyboard typically includes a series of screens or pages that outline the flow of the eLearning course, the content on each screen, and any accompanying multimedia elements, such as images, videos, and audio.

When developing storyboards, consider the following best practices:

What content authoring tools are commonly used to develop eLearning courses?

Depending on project team roles, a learning designer may be responsible for developing the eLearning courseware or they may deliver the storyboard to a multimedia developer who will produce the course.

The industry has many content authoring tools available for eLearning development, the most common including those listed below.

Another tool by Articulate, Rise 360 is known for the speed and ease with which you can create responsive eLearning content.

This tool allows instructional designers to develop custom, interactive courses. It has a simple interface, similar to PowerPoint, but with much more powerful features.

Adobe Captivate is a robust tool known for its wide range of features like responsive course design, screen recording, and software simulations.

iSpring Suite is a PowerPoint add-on that can turn presentations into eLearning courses. It also includes a quiz maker, dialogue simulations, and a screen recording feature.

This tool allows for the creation of highly interactive and multi-platform courses. It also supports augmented and virtual reality features.

Elucidat is a cloud-based authoring tool that provides powerful features with an emphasis on scalability and collaborative development.

While primarily a screen recording program, Camtasia also includes video editing and eLearning features like quizzing and interactive hotspots.

Gomo is a cloud-based tool known for its responsive design capabilities.

This is a user-friendly eLearning authoring software that enables you to design, author, and publish courses.

Tovuti's authoring tool allows you to create interactive content, from lessons to quizzes, with a rich content library.

Remember that the right tool will depend on a project’s specific needs including budget, the complexity of the content, the level of interactivity desired, and the platforms on which the courses will be delivered. Learning designers do not need to be proficient in every tool. For novice designers, it is recommended to start with Articulate 360 tools (particularly Storyline and Rise) and then branch into other content authoring tools.

What common mistakes should learning designers avoid when developing eLearning?

Here are some common mistakes that learning designers should avoid when developing eLearning:

  1. Not considering the audience: Not considering the audience's background, experience, and learning preferences can result in a course that is not engaging or effective.

  2. Overloading the course with content: Overloading the course with content can be overwhelming for learners and hinder their ability to retain information.

  3. Not providing opportunities for interaction: Not providing opportunities for interaction can lead to a course that is dull and unengaging.

  4. Poor design and usability: Poor design and usability can make it difficult for learners to navigate the course and hinder their ability to learn effectively.

  5. Focusing on presentation rather than learning: Focusing on presentation rather than learning can result in a course that is visually appealing but lacks substance.

By avoiding these common mistakes, learning designers can create eLearning courses that are engaging, effective, and meet the needs of learners.

eLearning practice project: Verbal and nonverbal communication

For this practice project, you will use a completed storyboard to develop a 1-hour eLearning course about active listening. Please complete the following:

  1. Sign up for a free trial at Articulate 360, so you have access to an easy-to-use eLearning development tool called Rise. Developing in Rise allows designers to quickly create mobile responsive learning experiences for geographically dispersed audiences. Designers essentially "stack" blocks of content and interactions into a scrollable interface that is easy for learners to navigate.

  2. Make a copy of the completed storyboard. After you have become familiar with Rise, use this completed storyboard to develop the course. Create a blank course in Rise and populate it with the black text provided in the storyboard. The storyboard includes developer notes to provide guidance on selecting images and creating limited audio, as well.

  3. Test the eLearning course on multiple devices, including a laptop or desktop computer, tablet, and mobile phone. Address any quality assurance issues, and notice how the interface adapts to the space available to the user.

Summary and next steps

This lesson provides a guide for learning designers on how to prepare clients for eLearning development, as well as best practices for writing scripts and storyboards. Keep in mind that eLearning is a complex topic, and the key takeaways from this lesson are just the beginning. To become an expert, learning designers should identify opportunities to upskill in eLearning design strategies, script writing, storyboarding, technology and tools. Above all, practice your design and development skills and solicit candid feedback from clients and learners to identify personal design strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Now that you are familiar with the basics of developing eLearning, continue to the next lesson in LXD Factory’s Develop series: Produce instructional videos.


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