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How to Structure a Custom eLearning Course


A  Girl with a guide book in her hand, on it is written “How To”

Ever wondered about the ins and outs of eLearning? It's an interesting approach to training that reaches learners spread out far and wide. Imagine your learners, each with their unique learning styles and schedules, jumping into the world of flexible, convenient learning.


Crafting an effective eLearning course is quite a task—it's a bit of an art, really. You've got to plan, design, develop, and evaluate to ensure your course hits the bullseye of your learners' needs and objectives.


So, here we are, ready to spill the details on 11 steps to weave together a custom eLearning course that's not just informative but also packs a punch of engagement and impact. So, Let’s get started.


Step #1: Understand Your Audience


To kick start the process of crafting a bespoke eLearning course, our initial focus is on getting to know your audience intimately. This crucial step is all about pinpointing the existing gap in your learners' knowledge, skills, and capabilities, and how they contrast with what you aspire for them to achieve. To accomplish this, we conduct a comprehensive Learning Needs Analysis (LNA) and Training Needs Analysis (TNA).


In the table below, we've outlined the distinct elements of these two analyses. This comparative insight is pivotal in customising the course to not only address the immediate learning requirements of your audience but also to prepare them for future challenges and opportunities.


Aspect

Learning Needs Analysis (LNA)

Training Needs Analysis (TNA)

Focus

Broader, strategic organizational learning

Specific job performance skills and knowledge

Scope

Long-term, future-oriented

Short-term, current job roles

Objective

Prepare for future challenges, develop learning culture

Improve immediate job performance

Approach

Holistic, internal and external factors

Targeted, specific skill gaps

Considerations

Market trends, tech advancements, strategy

Job descriptions, performance evaluations

Sample Questions

  • How can we prepare our audience to tackle future challenges?

  • How does the strategy of our organization influence our learning needs?

  • What effect do current market trends have on our learning requirements?

  • How can we incorporate the latest technology into our learning process?

  • What actions can we take to encourage a culture of learning within our organization?

  • What aspects should we keep in mind while planning our learning strategy?

  • What skills do we really need for our current jobs?

  • How can we get better at our jobs right away?

  • Do we know where our skills fall short?

  • Do our job descriptions really match what we can do?

  • What can we learn about our training needs from performance reviews?

  • How can we tailor training to improve our performance immediately?


Step #2: Create and Communicate Learning Objectives


Learning objectives outline what learners will know or do post-course. They're key as they:

  • Direct and focus course design and development

  • Help learners understand the course's purpose and benefits

  • Guide content selection and activity organization

  • Facilitate learning outcome evaluation


Effective learning objectives can be crafted using Bloom’s taxonomy. It classifies objectives into six cognitive complexity levels, each linked to specific verbs for writing objectives.


Communicating learning objectives is vital as it sets expectations, motivates learners, and aids in progress tracking. These objectives are also key in learning evaluation, helping us gauge course effectiveness and pinpoint areas for enhancement. This approach ensures a learning experience that’s engaging, impactful, and results-oriented.


Step #3: Get the Right Stakeholder Involved


The creation of a course requires the involvement of the right stakeholders, such as learners, trainers, managers, SMEs, and instructional designers. They play a vital role in providing feedback, ensuring quality, supporting implementation and evaluation, and promoting adoption among the target audience.


To get the right stakeholders involved, you have to:


  • Identify Key Stakeholders and their roles.

  • Explain the Problem, the Solution, the Benefits, and the Risks of the project.

  • Define the scope, timeline, and budget. Set the frequency, mode, and purpose of stakeholder communication.

  • Specify tools, methods, and expectations for Stakeholder collaboration.

  • Continually solicit and incorporate Stakeholder Input and Feedback.


Step #4: Develop a Custom eLearning Course Outline


This step helps ensure that the course content is organised, logical, and comprehensive. You can do this by:


  • Identify final learner knowledge/skills.

  • Segment content into digestible modules.

  • Arrange modules logically, building on previous knowledge.

  • Outline topics, activities, assessments per module.

  • Align all content/activities with course objectives.


The course outline helps in several ways by:


  • Providing structure and order, aiding both instructors and Learners in staying organised.

  • Outlining topics, concepts, activities, objectives, and resources for Learners.

  • Promoting self-paced learning, enabling Learners to complete coursework at their convenience.

  • Setting clear expectations, giving Learners direction and aiding in tracking progress.


When it comes to the overall eLearning course development, you can use:

  1. ADDIE: This stands for Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate. It’s a linear approach where each phase depends on the successful completion of the previous one. This model ensures thoroughness and accuracy.

  2. SAM: This is an agile model that emphasizes rapid development over perfection. It involves three stages: Preparation, Iterative Design, and Development. This model is flexible and allows for changes at any time during the process.


Both ADDIE and SAM are comprehensive models used for eLearning course development process. The choice between ADDIE and SAM depends on the specific needs of your course.


Step #5: Craft Engaging Content


This step provides the information, instruction, and interaction that the learners need in order to achieve the learning objectives. It involves:


  1. Gather Existing Material: Start by utilizing existing resources like documents, presentations, videos, or podcasts.

  2. Organize Content: Finally, develop your content. Ensure clarity and consistency in your text, audio, video, and images. Organize them in a way that aligns with your storyboard and enhances learning.

  3. Create Storyboard Content: Then, plan your content presentation. Visualize the course layout with diagrams or graphics to get a clear picture of how the course will flow.

  4. Choose Multimedia: Next, decide on the types of media best suited for your course, such as text, images, audio, or video. Ensure that the media complements the content.


The aim is to create engaging, clear content aligned with learning objectives. Keep it learner-focused and simple.



Step #6: Choose Your Tech


Tech refers to the tools and platforms that you will use to create, deliver, and manage the custom elearning course. Choosing the right tech is important because it affects the quality, functionality, and accessibility of the course. Selecting the right tech involves:


  • For Authoring: Choose an authoring tool that suits your needs. The right tool should offer a range of features for creating interactive and engaging content, such as articulate storyline and adobe captivate.

  • For Design: Select design tools that allow you to create visually appealing and intuitive course layouts. The right tool should be user-friendly and offer a variety of design options, such as Adobe photoshop and illustrator.

  • For Delivery: Your Learning Management System (LMS) is crucial for course delivery. The right platform should not only host the course but also track learner progress and performance, such as moodle, blackboard, canva.

  • For Learning Experiences: Consider tech that enhances the learning experience. This could include interactive elements, video conferencing tools for live sessions, or immersive technology, such as quizzes, games, VR/AR technology.

  • For Accessibility: Ensure your tech is accessible to all learners. This includes considerations for learners with disabilities and ensuring your course can be accessed on various devices, such as desktop, tablet, mobile.


Step #7: Offer Different Learning Activities


Learning activities are the tasks, exercises, that the learners undertake to achieve the learning objectives while making the learning experience more enjoyable and effective. You can incorporate diverse learning activities by adding.


  • Case Studies: Real-life scenarios promote critical thinking and practical concept application.

  • Interactive Courses: Active learner involvement through quizzes, drag-and-drop activities, and simulations.

  • Animated Explainers: Animated videos simplify complex concepts, improving understanding and retention.

  • Gamification: Game elements like points, badges, or leaderboards make learning fun and competitive.


Step 8: Link Learning to Real-World Benefits


Continually linking to real-world benefits demonstrates the course’s value and relevance, aids learners in applying learning outcomes to real-world situations, enhances learning retention and performance, and supports learners’ job function and career growth.


To continually tie things back to real-world benefits, you can use these techniques:


  • Real-world examples: Show how course content applies to job-related situations.

  • Scenario-based learning: Use scenarios to test understanding and demonstrate real-life application.

  • Simulations: Allow learners to apply skills in a safe environment and learn from mistakes.

  • Case studies: Use real-life cases to illustrate practical application of concepts.

  • Role-playing: Enable learners to make decisions in character, understanding real-world consequences.

  • Guest speakers: Invite experts for first-hand insights into practical application of learning.

  • Virtual tours: Provide direct, tangible experiences of the subject matter.

  • Project-based learning: Assign real-world problem-solving projects for practical application of learning.


Step #9: Integrate Assessments into Every Phase


By integrating assessments into every phase of the course, you can evaluate the learners’ progress towards the learning objectives, ensure the quality and effectiveness of the course content and activities, and demonstrate the value and impact of the course on the learners’ performance and development. The purpose is to test the learners’ understanding and application of the material.



  • Pre-training assessments: Used before the course to gauge learners’ existing knowledge and skills. Helps tailor the course, set expectations, and motivate learners. Examples: surveys, questionnaires, interviews, pre-tests.

  • Formative assessments: Used during the course to monitor progress, provide feedback, and adjust instruction. Helps identify strengths and weaknesses, address misconceptions, and enhance learning. Examples: quizzes, polls, assignments, games.

  • Summative assessments: Used at the end of the course to measure achievement, evaluate course effectiveness, and recognize completion or mastery. Helps assess competence, course impact on performance and development, and provide evidence of learning. Examples: tests, projects.


Step 10: Launch on LMS



To launch the course on the LMS, you need to

  • Test the course on the LMS for technical and functional compliance.

  • Set up the course on the LMS, configuring delivery and management settings.

  • Enrol learners and trainers, granting them course access.

  • Monitor and support the course, tracking performance and troubleshooting issues.


  • Develop an internal marketing plan that includes a main campaign message and a communication strategy.

  • Create and distribute marketing content that highlights the benefits and features of the course. This can be done through creative mailers, posters, and videos.

  • Analyze learner engagement within the course to assess and enhance the campaign.



Step 11: Review the Course


Once the course has been consumed, conduct a review by collecting and analyzing feedback from learners, trainers, and the organization to evaluate and improve the course. It highlights course effectiveness, identifies strengths and weaknesses, and provides insights for future course design.


Review methods and metrics include

  • Implement feedback loops: Gather and share participant feedback via surveys, interviews, focus groups.

  • Calculate ROI: Measure financial benefits and costs of the course.

  • Evaluate ROL: Measure learning outcomes and impacts using the Kirkpatrick model, evaluating outcomes at four levels: reaction, learning, behavior, and results.



Conclusion


Creating your own eLearning course might sound a bit tricky and time-consuming, but no worries, we've got you covered. We'll guide you through each step, from planning to launching, and even more. Our skills in making content, designing, and using authoring tools make sure your course is interesting, useful, and suits all kinds of learners. So, why wait? Let's make learning really count together.









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