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eLearning is a massive growth niche. It’s quick, cost-effective, and engaging.
It can help you create a start-up, stay competitive, educate employees, and have a significant impact on your existing business.
With an estimated year-on-year growth rate of 10.52% for 2021–2024, the eLearning industry is forecast to be worth over $38.09 billion. And that’s expected to continue growing due to the increasing popularity of remote learning.
Anyone with a skill set can learn how to create an eLearning course; however, if you’re new to eLearning, making a course can seem daunting, stressful, and time-consuming.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way; we take the mystery out of eLearning with our simple step-by-step guide.
To create an eLearning course, you must first identify your business needs.
You find those by asking, what’s the purpose of my training? Who’s it for? Why will they take it? Once you have these answers, you can begin defining your course requirements and expectations.
The “why will they take it” question is vitally important, because it’s your audience’s problem (pain point), and your purpose is to provide the solution. The solution is the reason you’re creating an eLearning course; it’s your objective, your goal.
And when you know your goal, you can begin conducting a needs analysis to ensure it’s viable and required:
Your needs analysis results provide transparency into your target audience’s problem, the solution, and whether your training is what they need. If it is, the results of your investigation should justify the training development costs and provide you with a starting point for creating your eLearning training course.
Next, who’s it for?
Apps, websites, social media campaigns, email marketing, and eLearning all have one thing in common: An intended audience. And to create an eLearning course people need, you must first assess your eLearning audience and subject matter. Because your students could theoretically come from all over the world, it’s important to pin down who your course is intended to target.
Your goal is to clarify which content you should include in your course. For example, a beginners’ yoga course would have to explain the different yoga positions, what they’re called, and basic tips for doing them, while a course intended to teach long-time yoga students how to become instructors would use much more advanced techniques and jargon.
How to clarify your e-learning course content:
When you understand your intended audience’s expectations and what they hope to achieve from your course, you can focus on providing it. A helpful strategy to encapsulate the essence of your eLearning course—so people understand its intention before taking it—is to create a learning objectives statement.
Bringing us to step three:
A learning objective is a short statement that tells people what your course is about, whom it’s for, and how they’ll benefit. Well-written learning objectives are specific and easy to understand, leaving prospective learners in no doubt about what new actions they’ll be able to take upon completing it.
When used to create an eLearning course, your objective will help you break down your course material into appropriate modules—which you will use as a blueprint when you’re ready to build out your content.
A simple strategy to formulate an eLearning objective is to set an overall SMART goal for your course (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Objective) and break it down into several obtainable learning objectives.
The goal is the eventual outcome (what your students will achieve); the objectives are how they’ll achieve it. For example, the goal of your course could be to help newly married couples purchase their first piece of real estate, while your objective for Module One is for them to learn how to choose a neighborhood, Module Two is evaluating a property, etc.
Once you have this down, it’s time to actually build out your content—starting with choosing the right technology to help you do so.
Every company’s needs differ, as do authoring tools. So, before you can build your eLearning course, you first have to choose an authoring tool that’s fit for your purpose. You can determine which one best suits you by defining your requirements and assessing a prospective authoring tool’s online reviews, available features, and costs.
Questions to help you define your eLearning authoring tool requirements:
For example, a language-learning app Duolingo would obviously need mobile support, because it’s designed for an audience that wants to learn on the go. They also have gamification, i.e. participation incentives like trophies and badges, to keep their students motivated to keep learning.
Author tools like Elucidat allow multiple stakeholders to create content and comment on each other’s work, which is something to consider if you’re working with a team. Adobe Captivate is a SCORM (sharable content object reference model) that’s great for creating mobile-ready courses using ready-to-go slides. Make sure you understand what your needs are and do your research before choosing the appropriate authoring tool.
You must also consider both the needs of your audience and yourself—such as how they’ll access your course, will it be on company or personal devices? Will your course be mobile optimized? Which access functionality is required? Will you need to regularly update course content?
Only by answering questions like these pre-authoring tool selection can you choose a tool with absolute certainty.
Your LMS, or Learning Management System, is the cloud-based tool that will actually help you deliver your course. They often get confused with authoring tools (though some LMSs include authoring tools within the software, so you can both create and share your content all in one place). There are various learning management systems available online that you can use to create your course. You can use Skillshare, Udemy, Thinkific, Teachable, Kajabi and several other platforms to create and deliver your online courses.
To choose your LMS, you’ll want to first define your instructional design plan. Developing your course instructional strategy is the equivalent of uploading a route into a GPS.
Once uploaded, it determines your journey, deciding when you turn left or right.
Your course’s instructional design is how you’ll engage your viewers and keep them moving effectively through your content, helping them achieve the best possible results.
You can choose from several instructional strategies to project your course content, such as storytelling, situational learning, discovery learning, cooperative learning, objective and feedback learning, social learning, ETC.
Once you understand which instructional strategies you’ll be using, you can choose an LMS that supports it. For instance, platforms like Teachable include live instruction capabilities, if you want to offer your students additional one-on-one sessions to supplement your course material.
Of course, most LMSs charge a monthly fee, so it’s important for you to decide which features are key and which you can do without before you allocate your budget to a subscription service.
If you’re creating an eLearning course to either sell online or offer an incentive, such as joining your email list, you have an opportunity of enhancing your brand image and establishing yourself as the go-to authority in your niche.
But to accomplish this, you first have to create a cohesive design that accurately conveys a tone that aligns with your brand’s personality and message.
Tips for integrating cohesive branding into eLearning course design:
Add social media icons – No eLearning course is complete without social media icons. However, did you know you can customize icons so they match your branding by changing fonts, colors and including your company images? It’s an excellent way of personalizing your course while reinforcing your brand message.
These links enable learners to quickly access information, helping your course look more professional. And like most online presentations, videos play directly on your eLearning platform from YouTube, you don’t have to host them, thus ensuring your eLearning course loading speeds aren’t affected.
Your eLearning course’s success depends heavily on the content you provide, how your platform performs, and any resulting testimonials.
You can ensure success by building a working prototype of a chosen module, then testing it for glitches. Your prototype acts as a micro representation of your intended course’s look and feel and can also be used to test technical functionalities.
Single module prototypes save time and money because you can quickly create, discard, and improve versions. Ensuring you don’t design and build an entire course only to find it falls short of your objective on completion.
Gathering feedback to improve your course is essential, as it informs you of your course’s continued functionality, how effective learners find the content, and what you might need to change to improve it. You can also review factors such as the return on your investment and running costs.
One of the advantages of running an eLearning course is that you should have access to a bunch of data after you first launch your course.
So, the first thing to check here is your learning analytics, i.e. all of the data you accumulated about your students over the course of their learning with you. How many of them completed your course? Was there a specific point in which users dropped off? If you used videos in your course, what was the average duration of video watch time? And, if there was an interactive aspect of your course (like quizzes, etc.), did your students understand what they were supposed to do?
Your LMS should provide you with detailed data about how your students are interacting with you, so you can hopefully optimize and tweak to improve engagement for the next time around.
Another simple and effective way of measuring your course performance is the NPS (net promoter score).
It works by asking learners who’ve completed your course a simple question, such as: On a scale of 1-10, how effective did you find the course? Or, how likely are you to recommend it to your peers? How satisfied are you with the course technology?
Depending on which number a learner chooses, they’ll fall into one of three categories:
You calculate your course NPS results by subtracting the percentage of detractors from the promoters. But there’s a bonus to this test, as your promoters and possibly your passives could be future learners, and the information you gather tells you who they are.
Creating your first eLearning course will take work, but it doesn’t have to be daunting or time-consuming.
If you follow our guide, implement the steps one at a time, and create a reusable template, you’ll have an eLearning course that your brand and company can promote time and time again.
Making your initial investment well worth the effort.
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This post was contributed by Tailor Brands.
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