When you begin developing eLearning, your excitement might have you wanting to jump right into your activity design and content development. Unfortunately, we're here to tell you that there are things you should do first.
If you want to develop the best modules possible, taking the time to plan your eLearning is crucial. It helps to ensure your eLearning aligns with your business goals and addresses your learners' specific needs, improving engagement and results. It can also support and streamline your development process while guiding your success measures.
Here are our top five things to consider before you start creating your course.
Consider your learning needs
This is your questioning stage. What are the performance or training capabilities you need to address or the business goals you need to achieve? If you have already decided on what learning you need, how can this specific course help you achieve them? If you haven't, what kind of modules could help you to accomplish this?
You should also consider your learners as part of this. What are their motivations? Do they have previous experience or skills with this topic?
Complete a content audit
The good news is that you don't necessarily need to reinvent the wheel with your source material. Often organisations will have existing materials from face to face training that can be adjusted to suit the new format. Take the time to explore the content you do have and make a list of what is missing. Policies, procedures, internal comms can also be good source material, so make sure to include those.
As part of your content audit, don't forget to account for different types of content. For example, videos can be an excellent way to explain complex concepts for learners quickly and effectively. You can also consider podcasts and graphics to heighten engagement and allow for different learning styles. Some of your existing content may form the basis for these or you may need to start from scratch.
If you are looking to address common organisational challenges or focused on compliance training, you may also be able to consider off-the-shelf courses. Good examples of this will provide you with a solid structure right off the bat and allow you to update with your own policies and branding to streamline your content creation.
Complete a technology audit
This stage will depend on whether this is your first time creating digital learning or if you're simply launching a new project.
If you have never created digital learning before, you will need to decide on technology such as your authoring tool and LMS. These will allow you to create your content and then share it with your employees.
It's still worth considering whether your existing software is fit for purpose if your organisation already has these tools in place.
Questions to ask yourself include
- Can you create mobile responsive eLearning? In an increasingly mobile world, making sure that learners can access your course on computers, tablets and mobiles are essential. While many authoring tools include responsive learning options, this can often be a convoluted process to build.
- Can you get the data you need? Simply tracking completion rates is no longer enough. You should ensure that you can access more in-depth analytics to further optimise your courses in the future.
- Do you have access to templates, themes and a content library? Having prebuilt design assets and even courses can make it much quicker to get your courses up and running.
- How easy is it to collaborate? Increasingly, learning designers aren't working in a silo and instead across entire organisations. Tools that focus on collaboration will provide you with the tools to take advantage of this as you develop your content.
- Can you easily achieve the things you want to? This might seem like an obvious question but stick with us. Many people we speak to are simply not happy with their authoring tools and LMS. Whether it is the ease of use, limited functionality or cumbersome procedures, if you consistently find yourself struggling with your tools, it might be time to upgrade.
Create a plan for learning transfer
The sad reality is that too much eLearning and even traditional training does not do what it sets out to achieve - it doesn't actually achieve change in the workplace as learners fail to apply their new skills.
As you begin to plan your eLearning, take the time to consider what should happen after courses are completed. How can your organisation support learners as they return to the workplace and need to utilise these skills?
Consider things such as encouraging learners to set goals, learning contracts, coaching opportunities, follow-ups post-course and even just building in examples of how to use this learning into your modules. Combined, these factors will ensure greater ROI and effectiveness in your eLearning.
Decide how you will evaluate success
While your eLearning's ultimate goal will likely be a change of behaviours or adoption of new knowledge, you should still take the time to evaluate what you will consider success.
As part of this, consider the kind of assessments you want to build into your course. If you are building compliance, it may be necessary to have a quiz at the end, but this should not be the sole measure of success.
You can also align your success to your business goals, and even your learners' own attitudes. For example, asking learners how confident they feel before and after a course might be more telling than quizzes.
In this stage, think about the data you will need to collect from your courses to evaluate this success. It is much easier to do this before you start creating your content or even worse, after the fact!
Need some help with this?
We know that planning your eLearning can be overwhelming. That's why we built something called the Learning Canvas into our authoring tool. This is a practical guide to improve your scoping workshops and includes much of what we've covered in this blog.