1. Choose the right LMS
When we are choosing a Learning Management System, we need to make sure it complies with our needs. For example exporting certificates or option to automate regular tasks. But mostly the LMS has to be user friendly and easy to use. Learners need to get to the content/course without any technical challenges and that is the key. The LMS has to work as friendly structure that guides user to the content. Let’s look at how we can develop this content in the following steps.
2. Who is the target group?
Before we delve into course development, we must ask ourselves: Who is this content for? We should know who is our target group and which is his prior knowledge on the topic. The level of prior knowledge gives us a baseline on which we will prepare our content.
Demographic is also an important part. If the course is intended for an older age group, than we should have a really clear user interface, because the technical knowledge is probably low. We should also take eye vision into account and make objects and fonts bigger than usual. Similarly, if the content is meant for young children, then we should have as little buttons and complex interactions as possible.
After we recognize our target group, we must ask ourselves, where is our course going to be used, in what environment? If it will be an open office, where computer speakers or headphones are not possible, then we should take that into account when developing the course. In this case we should focus on the elements on the screen, because sound is not going to be used. If the course is intended for tablets, which usually have smaller screens, then we should again make objects and fonts bigger.
3. Break content into smaller chunks
Now, that we have our content ready, we should split it into smaller chapters. If the full course is long about an hour, then we can have between 3 and 6 chapters, ranging between 10 in 20 minutes. This is an ideal length, because in a short time, the user can complete a part of the content, which gives her/him a sense of progress, which in turn gives her/him motivation to continue to the next chapter.
From the technical point of view, having chunks of content also makes it easier for us to adjust the content or combine it with chapters from other topics. And it gives us a more detailed statistics of users’ progress, because we can see the progress for each chapter.
4. The best way to present the content
Now we have to decide in what way we are going to be presenting our content. Is it going to be a whiteboard animation, bullet points and a voice over, screenshots and captions? For every content there is a best way to present that content, that would have the highest impact for our users. If we would have a course about MS Word, than screen recording and an explanation would probably be the best way to do it. Presenting the content like this is much more effective than just having 20 lines of text instructions.
5. Make it versatile
Computer, i.e. screen and speakers, provides us with a lot of options in terms of multimedia, so we should use it as much as possible and where it makes sense. If we would have 20 slides with only a short text and a picture, this would quickly become tedious and boring. We should try to avoid that and spice up our course using videos, interactive tasks, quizzes, animations and sound. Using versatile multimedia is going to successfully hold our users attention until the end of each chapter.
6. Keep a clean slide
When we are placing our content on the slide, we have to keep the slide clean and tidy. We shouldn’t put too much objects on the slide and text should be limited to about 200 words. If we have to put many pictures on one slide, we should use a gallery where user moves from one picture to another. If we have a video, we would use only video on the slide and put other content on the next slide.
7. Adjust navigation
Course navigation is something like a path on which we guide our user through the course. What kind of navigation we are going to use, depends on the nature of the course. For courses that are mandatory, which is common in business, we use limited navigation. This means the user cannot skip the slides, but has to wait until the slide has finished, a video is viewed or that a task is completed successfully. For the more open types of courses, that are meant to be used often, we keep an unlocked navigation, so the user can jump to a specific part of a course.
8. What if there is too much content?
What if we have too much content and it would be too expensive or it would take too long to develop? We can still develop a useful course, sort of like a supporting eLearning, but in limited scope. We can take the parts of the content, that are the hardest to grasp, and we can try to present it in a more effective way that is presented currently. Or we can only focus on interactive tasks and quizzes for practice.
9. Introduction eLearning into an organization
When we are introducing e-learning in a bigger organization it is recommended to first test our content with a selected group of users, that are interested in new ways of learning. They can provide feedback, which enables us to adjust parts of the course before the big launch. Also, our test users will work as spokespersons for our content to their colleges.
10. Encourage your learners
Course attendance can quickly drop if users motivation is low. That is why encouraging users is a big part of the eLearning process. If we notice that user has not entered the LMS one week after the start of the course, we send her/him a short message and ask him if everything is in order and whether she/he needs any help. If our course also has an e-mentor, she/he can also send a motivation message to users once a week. By encouraging our users we also make them aware, that they are not “alone” in this learning process, but that there is also someone that cares about their progress.