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Launching Your Own eLearning Project

 

Posted on Thu, 22/07/2010 - 13:38

Launching Your Own eLearning Project

What if your boss put you in charge of this initiative? Hopefully, these steps below will better prepare you to have an effective instructional experience for your learners through development. We explain what you should do as a client, and what to look for when creating your eLearning project

1. Target Your Audience – Setting up training for an engineer is vastly different than setting up training for a sales representative. You need to determine who the audience is and what will be the most effective learning strategy for them.  Keep in mind the education level of your audience as well as seat time for the module. Different levels of interactivity and content detail will need to be considered for your audience when choosing the most effective learning strategy for them.

2. Medium – Know what technology you would like your learners to use during their learning process. This is the time where you decide how you will plan on using your development. Some mediums include kiosks, web - based training, CD-ROM's, and Learning Management Systems (LMS). If your going to use a Learning Management System, you need to decide which LMS you will be using because the development of the module will vary depending on the system. Make sure to look at your company limitations, for example if your learners will not have the  ability to use/install Flash, then it would be in your best interest to not develop the project in Adobe Flash.

3. Features – By choosing your features ahead of time, you will have a better grasp of the time frame to complete your project. A few eLearning project features include: closed captioning, drag and drop questions, scrolling text, 2d & 3d animations, audio/voice over, streaming video, illustrations, and pre and post assessments. A good understanding of the features is essential to understand how large the final product will be.

4. Design –The design of your creation does not just mean choosing a color for the interface and slapping your logo at the top. All aspects of the design must be considered in creating a successful eLearning project.  Without thinking about the design as a whole you will find users will be confused on how to navigate through the module, and finding the features that are located within the eLearning project. Not only must your content keep the user engaged but the design of the interface and the way the content is presented is a major factor in assuring your message is getting across. Users should not be distracted by the way something looks or where it is located within the project. The design should present the information in a way that is intuitive and facilitates the learning experience.

5. Content – Ensure you are obtaining realistic initiatives for your project and remember to view the material from a learner standpoint. This will also eliminate confusion from a novice user attempting to learn your processes and protocols. Learning objectives are what drive your overall goals, while the content is what drives each topic. Content will always be king in eLearning projects so make sure that the majority of the time invested into your project is focused around the content development and storyboarding.

6. Make it fun! - Create an eLearning project that your staff can learn easily from and have fun while doing so! People learn in life because it’s applicable. Often times they learn because they want to, but in this case there will be people that are the opposite. So while in the storyboarding phase make sure you think about the fun factor.

7. Development – This should never start until you have the final approval of your storyboards. Look through your storyboard, features, and medium and determine the best way to start development. If you are looking for a simplistic module with minimal interaction, try developing in Captivate,or Articulate. If you are looking for something with a lot of interactivity, try developing in Adobe Flash, Silverlight,or  Sharepoint. Remember to consider your LMS in this stage as well. You want to make sure that your module is SCORM or AICC compliant if necessary. There are many different types of development tools other than the ones listed above that you can use to get your project complete. Once you have researched and chosen your editing suite you can begin putting your storyboard and features together into your module design.

8. Testing –Every development should go through a testing phase where multiple users go through the module and provide their feedback. Consider having focus groups and involve both people who will be using the system as well as users who mimic the target audience in terms of content knowledge and experience. By having focus groups, you will be able to alleviate any issues that may arise within your development that you or your team may have overlooked. Make sure the design is user-friendly and the content is achieving your learning objectives. Testing will insure a smooth implementation of your training solutions and will insure your learners are not distracted by development bugs and errors.

9. Implementation– During the development phase, your team or vendor may have asked (or should have) if your eLearning project needed to be SCORM or AICC compliant. This is critical to importing your course into a learning management system (LMS). AICC & SCORM are two very different programming languages that allow for communication between the user and the LMS. These coding languages are applied to the eLearning project so that they can send and receive commands to the LMS such as bookmarking, pass / fail, complete/incomplete, timing of the course, or even saving answers into the LMS. This coding preference is determined by the learning management system you are going to be applying to this eLearning project. During your design and planning phase we strongly suggest discussing with your technical team to determine what preference your LMS uses. This is critical to easily uploading your entire course as a zip file into your LMS. Without this the course is a standalone system that has no ability to be easily setup in the LMS nor can it track user progress. Once you do have the correct coding you are able to quickly import this eLearning project into your LMS. Beware, we suggest working with the LMS admin to ensure they show you how to exactly import a course in using AICC or SCORM as that process is unique to each LMS.

10. Tracking the results... – Your first eLearning project has now become a bigger venture than you anticipated. Now not only do you want to create the course for the users but your boss wants you to provide results for your effort. This is where your learning management system comes in. There are many options to learning management systems ranging from open source systems, up to large scale enterprise systems. We recommend doing some research on LMS systems and their features to choose the one that fits your learner’s needs. In the near future we will provide a post regarding open source systems for you so come back to the blog.

Hopefully, the process above will assist you in developing out your eLearning project. If you would like to learn more about how we can assist you in developing this process contact us today!