Stewart Milton from BlueOrange is a world-class expert in e-Learning, and was generous enough to share ten useful tips for effectively creating e-Learning courses. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert yourself, these principles of e-Learning course authoring can provide you with an excellent basis for creating high-quality content every time.
I have been very fortunate to have taught e-Learning applications and course design to so many people and organizations. In this short article I would like to share with you some of the lessons I have shared with so many talented people. I hope that you might be able to use some of my suggestions:
This is normally overlooked. It can often be daunting knowing where to start. Make sure any e-Learning courses you develop are based on actual training needs and staff or client feedback. Often you need to convince your bosses of the value of e-Learning, so stick with my one liner – "Start small but think big." What I mean here is that bosses are impatient. They want quick results, so identify a key training need and tackle it promptly. Even a small win is important. It shows your bosses what can be done and gives you the confidence to reach for bigger projects.
- Measure for Compliance
Before you begin, make sure you fully understand your company or client’s measurement needs and how these can be met. In a formal e-Learning course where crucial policies, procedures or skills are taught, often the learner’s knowledge gained has to be measured and recorded. Typically, this measurement is done through quiz type questions and it is best having your courses uploaded to your LMS (Learning Management System) so the answers provided can be recorded within it for later review and analysis. An LMS is crucial if you have a large number of learners to support.
- Less is always More
Reading from screens is not always easy as more of us use smart phones and tablets to access online courses. Use larger font sizes and less text to keep things simple. Let me provide an example. Instead of trying to explain the steps involved in using a software feature by using 5 paragraphs or multiple slides, use a short video instead. Video clips should not exceed 2 minutes duration, as attention spans are short. Provide information in bite-sized chunks that are easy to skim read and even easier for your learners to recall.
- Boring is Good
Always make sure that your lesson content is consistently branded and visually appealing. Templates are a safe bet and save you time on repetitive tasks like adding logos, menus and navigation icons. Don’t be tempted to overcomplicate your course just because the software has lots of bells and whistles. Always ask, “How does this feature add value for my learners?”
- Work Smarter, Not Harder
Ensure that you capture and re-use multimedia clips and clever interactions by adding these to your existing software library folders. Video clips and course titles can be grouped and added to your library assets for easy retrieval. Typically these are used for welcome and closing screens. Course pages containing clever animations using motion paths can be saved too, and these again can be re-used, saving you tons of time and effort.
- Encourage Constructive Review
It can be tough when you are developing a course. It may involve subject content that you or your team are unfamiliar with or know nothing about. Thankfully, it is now easier to get expert review and information you might need. Make sure you upload draft content at a very early stage for peer review and subject-expert feedback. I normally start with the basic design layout to get agreement on colors, navigation, menus and course structure. Upload your course to iSpring Learn or iSpring Cloud and invite the subject experts to review your progress. Commenting and review is browser-based so they don’t need specific applications to conduct a review.
- Size Really Does Matter
Make sure your courses and/or videos fit within the display resolutions of the devices being used by your learners. Not sure where to begin? Check your Google Analytics data and it will reveal the display resolutions being used by your viewers. For most e-Learning courses 1024x768 pixels seems to still be a safe bet so it can be viewed on most tablet devices too. iSpring’s responsive design and adaptive player will re-size content to fit the device screen size being used.
- Content is Always King
Eye-candy courses look good, but valuable and relevant content will always gain the plaudits. Make sure your content is easy to grasp – short text blocks, larger font sizes and greater use of video and images – to help your learners acquire knowledge more quickly. Video content can be uploaded to YouTube and then embedded within your course pages. Make sure to add social media icons too, so that your content can be shared with a wider audience if required.
- Personalise your Course
This all depends on the nature of the course and the role that you play. In courses where you are recognized for having unique knowledge or play a pivotal role, it can help provide reassurance and trust in you – the expert! From past experience my own postgraduate students tell me they prefer it, as my short video explanations explain concepts and models in simple language and often make it easier for them. You can either use webcam video or provide your key bio information in the Presenter menu on the player.
- Learning Journeys Never End
Think about the needs of your learners and the tools and further help they might require to apply what you have taught them. Use the iSpring Resources feature within your course player to provide links to additional content, other websites or further courses to help them learn faster and easier. Also make use of slide notes to provide additional information or explanations of key points.
Are you an e-Learning expert with some more helpful tips to share? Or are there any more tips you’d be interested in reading about on the iSpring blog? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Stewart Milton is Head of Knowledge Management and e-Learning at BlueOrange. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK and has taught MBA students at the Open University Business School for many years. His e-Learning classes have been attended by over 2,000 and he also mentors the Learning and Development teams for many global organizations that include the UN, Diageo, BA and Capita.