9 Steps for creating successful E-Learning Project

e-learning

This blog is based on my personal 6 year of experience in eLearning domain. Base on my experience and working style I thought that I should share my knowledge and style with all e-learning peoples. This will really help for those who are seeking steps of developing any e-learning project.

In e-Learning Industry, I saw there are many methods available to develop any e-learning project. I came across some of the projects where we need to change our approach to doing the project in the same manner. Sometimes we need to flexible based on the requirement comes from client. We have to adapt agile methodology of doing the things with respect to time. However, it also depends on some variables including what your budget, time and talent resources are, as well as what has worked for you in your past work experiences.

ADDIE

I always go with ADDIE model which is very effective and easy way of develoThping any training material from the scratch. The ADDIE Model is an approa ch used by instructional designers and content developers to create instructional course materials. The model has been adopted as the standard method by many instructional designers because of its flexibility.
However, I am going to share my experience workflow for developing most of the project I have worked on.

Step 1: Analysis

This is the first and most important step for any kind of project. This defines the roadmap for the whole e-Learning Project. If this step done correctly all later stages will be going smoothly. It is this analysis that helps you identify your audience, limitations or opportunities, or other important points that will be useful in the design process.
Usually, training is requested because managers sense there is a problem that training will solve. Your first goal is to identify what the performance gap or the business need, is that you’re looking to fill with this e-learning. In some situation, training isn’t really necessary in the first place, but let’s assume that a proper training needs analysis has been done and that it has identified a real business purpose for the e-learning.

Talk to your client or SMEs and identify what their expectations are. Ask yourself and the client…Why are we creating this course and what is the outcome we want.? You’ll want to talk to them about the following things:

  • Analyze Needs
  • Identify required knowledge
  • Identify constraints
  • High-Level Objectives
  • Budget
  • Tools
  • Timelines
  • Review process
  • Branding requirements
  • Course access (a simple email with a link, LMS, hosted online, etc.)

The client might also provide you with additional details that will be pertinent to the course design, and they might let you know about a Subject Matter Expert who’s available to chat with, ask questions and extract content-specific knowledge from. The client might also provide access to existing content and materials that can be leveraged, or, to they might point to some resources that can serve as a starting point. Once had the chat with the client is done, it’s time to move on to step two!

Step 2: Learning & Performance Objective and Create Assessment Criteria

Learning and performance objectives are created so that we know exactly what the learners must be able to do once they have completed the training process It will guide your development process. Learning objectives form the basis for what is to be learned, how well it is to be performed, and under what conditions it is to be performed.
Example of learning Objectives:
“Write a customer reply letter with no spelling mistakes by using a word processor.”
Observable Action: Write a customer reply letter
Measurable Criteria: with no spelling mistakes
Conditions of Performance: using a word processor

Creating Assessment Criteria:
Each Learning Objective needs to align with the level of Blooms Taxonomy. This will help you create your knowledge checks or scenarios to assess your learners.

Bloom (1956) has provided us with his taxonomy to assist us to compose questions on different levels of thinking. This taxonomy ranges from lower to higher levels of cognitive thinking. These levels are (I will shortly provide more detail of each level):

  1. Knowledge
    • a. What happened after…?
    • b. How many…?
  2. Comprehension
    • Can you write in your own words…?
    • Can you write a brief outline…?
  3. Application
    • Do you know another instance where…?
    • Could this have happened in…?
  4. Analysis
    • Which events could have happened…?
    • I … happened, what might the ending have been?
  5. Synthesis
    • Can you design a … to …?
    • Why not compose a song about…?
  6. Evaluation
    • Is there a better solution to…
    • Judge the value of…
    • Can you defend your position about…?

 Step 3: Gather and Organize the Content

You may be handed a big pile of raw content, such as past training materials or a PowerPoint presentation compiled by a Subject Matter Expert (SME). Your next step would then be to sort through all of the content and re-organize it.

  • Avoid any “fluff” or “nice-to-know” information, and focus on the “need-to-know” and task-based content.
  • Chunk out your content into small pieces that are easy to learners to digest, and organize these pieces in the order that makes the most sense.
  • Create content outline with stepwise if required and make it proper curriculum way.

Clarify and expand on any additional information by consulting with your SME. At this point, you should also be thinking about which photos and multimedia to use in your e-learning course.

Step 4: Storyboarding

The tools you use to storyboard and develop your course will depend on what’s available to you, which applications you’re familiar with, and what your client wants. I’ve had the luxury of being able to storyboard directly in Storyline and Captivate, and this has been a huge time-saver in the design process for me. This is because I’m not storyboarding in a separate application and then moving over a bunch of content later.
I also prefer PowerPoint to create a storyboard as many authoring tools are capable of Importing PowerPoint Slides and make it as a real course format.

My storyboards consist of text, placeholders for multimedia (images and videos) and functioning navigation. I don’t usually include animations, but will put notes indicating what animations I’d like to use. At this point, I’m not trying to make it look pretty or add visual design elements (except for logo placement), I’m just figuring out how all the content will be laid out (on which slides) and how these slides will be linked to each other. It’s key for me to make sure my course has a good flow, and all my navigation works well.
Sometimes, instructional designers or e-learning designers need to storyboard a course and then hand it off to someone else for actual development. If this is the case, you’d probably need to include a lot of detailed notes, instructions, and screenshots to make sure your storyboard is very clear and thorough for the person you’ll be handing it over to.
Having a great storyboard like this makes it easier to avoid a scenario where I’ve designed a beautiful course and now, as I add in my final Summary slide, I realize I need to add a button, and go back and add it in to every slide.

Step 5: Review and Edit Your Storyboards

One I’ve got a good storyboard with functional navigation and all of the content sorted out, I will publish this and pass it along to the SME or a trusted colleague for review. I will usually stress the fact that the storyboard has not been styled yet, and that it doesn’t yet have the polished look or the final glossy images. I follow storyboard checklist for reviewing it.

Storyboard Checklist: – At a minimum, your storyboard should include each of the following pages:

  • General Information Page – have you given the design team sufficient “global instructions”?
  • Course Navigation – does your navigation make sense and is it easy to understand? Will it be easy for a student to navigate through your course?
  • Course Beginning – have you described an intriguing opening to your course that helps the student see what’s in it for them?
  • Introduction for Module One – have you described what the student will learn in this module and how it fits into the course?
  • Content Pages for Module One – do your content pages: o Include only one main point per page
    • Limit the amount of content so it’s not overwhelming
    • Use short, simple sentences
    • Use examples and/or stories
    • Use a personal writing style
    • Give the learner something to do
    • Include relevant images, multi-media and narration that will support the content
    • Include practice exercises where appropriate
  • Module One Summary Page – does your summary page remind the student the content you covered without directly restating your objectives?
  • Each Succeeding Module – does each module include an introduction, content pages and a summary that meet the criteria stated above for module one?
  • Course Closing Pages – have you summarized the key points of the entire course and explained how to complete the course?
  • Course Assessment – have you written out your assessment questions/tools?
  • Course Evaluation Page – have you specified how the student can provide course feedback?
  • Course Review/Approval – have you had your subject matter experts and other stakeholders review your initial storyboard?
  • Course Resources Page – do you have resources you want to make available to the student? If yes, have you indicated that in your storyboard?

When I publish the course and share it with my SME, I will also give them a cekclist document that they fill out so I can get their feedback in a clear and organized fashion. I then take this document, and make the edits to the storyboard document as indicated in the review document. You might have to pass it back and forth with your SME, or other project stakeholders, a few times before you get everything narrowed down to where it should be.

Step 6: Develop the Course

This is the fun part! Now that you’ve got all your multimedia, text content, and navigation details sorted out, you can have fun styling, adding color schemes, choosing fonts, and spending hours (kidding!) selecting the perfect photos and illustrations. Stick to some visual design basics and your course can easily have a simple, clean and modern look.
Leave a good amount of white-space and keep slides clutter-free

  • Limit yourself to one or two fonts throughout the course
  • Limit yourself to two or three colors throughout the course
  • Buttons and links should be in the same place on every slide
  • Align and distribute items and text on your slide
  • Use relevant and meaningful photography
  • Stick to one type of clip-art or photography throughout your course

There are just some of the basics for developing a visually appealing course. There are some simple guiding principles of design that you can follow even if you’re not a graphic designer that will help give your course a nice clean look.

Step 7: Quality Assurance and Testing

Now that you’ve storyboarded and developed an awesome course, it’s ready for launch, right? Not quite yet. Testing is a really important step in the process that shouldn’t be skipped. At an organization I worked at in the past, I discovered the true value of the testing phase first-hand when we completed some user acceptance testing. We asked five employees at the organization with different levels of technical skills, to complete the e-learning module, and we recorded them doing it and then got their feedback. Based on this, I got a lot of similar comments about things like not knowing where to click on a certain slide (even though I thought I had made it very clear!) and from there I made quite a few course edits that really improved the course as a whole. We also caught tons of typos and grammatical errors and small design errors (things not aligned, the wrong color, etc.) which, when all cleaned up and edited, made a huge difference in how polished the course looked.

All this to say, don’t rush to publish your course, even if you’re really proud of it and excited to get it into the hands of your learners. Take the time to have it thoroughly reviewed from top to bottom, for design inconsistencies, broken navigation links, spelling and grammar mistakes. Additionally, have it tested by potential participants and watch them as they complete the course to see where they struggle, what works well, and what doesn’t work well. From there, make the appropriate changes if required. You’ll end up with a much higher quality end result.

Step 8: Publish and Deploy

After all that hard work you’re finally ready to publish and deploy your e-learning! The type of output you publish to (for the web, for CD, for LMS, for mobile) depends on how your learners are accessing their courses. In some cases, you might simply be able to publish your files for the web, upload them to a web server, and provide the URL link for your learners to access the course. If you need to track your users using the company LMS (Learning Management System), you’ll need to publish your course to SCORM and upload those files to the LMS. This part really depends on your project and how your learners are accessing their materials! Provide your learners with clear instructions on what the software requirements are for viewing the course, and where and when they can access it.

Step 9: Evaluation

If you’re designing an e-learning course, you might be thinking about including a post-course evaluation for your learners to complete once they finish your course.
The post-course eval offers you insight into the participant’s reaction to the e-learning and how much they think they learned. The information provided in the post-course evaluation can help you make improvements and changes to your course, so it’s definitely an important step!

  • Determine your primary goals and your corporate eLearning strategy evaluation parameters.
  • Use surveys and employee feedback to gauge satisfaction and understanding.
  • Test employees to evaluate their level of knowledge/skill acquisition.
  • Assess how learned skill sets are being used on-the-job.
  • Compare and contrast successful results with those that fell short.
  • Encourage on-going evaluation within the company culture.

Developing an e-learning course from start to finish can seem like an extremely daunting process to a newcomer, and there’s definitely lots to learn along your way. Following this seven-step process that I use as my e-learning workflow might help you get started in the right direction for your own project.