Review cycle in elearning development

The eLearning development process involves many moving parts and pieces and when you look at the complete process as a whole, you are most likely to feel to give up. However, if you think of an eLearning development process as collaborative work then you are most likely to build an awesome course. In this article, we are going to see how the client’s visual feedback can help you improve the speed and quality of the eLearning development process. 

Review cycles are the most essential and crucial part of any development process. It is based on the foundation of agile development methodology. 

“Build in small chunks, review and improve”

Let’s see how you can include client feedback and review cycles in your eLearning development process. 

eLearning development principles and methods

As an eLearning professional or a project manager, you must be aware of the principles. However, before we jump on the actual process let’s just brush up our knowledge with the core development principles and methodology. 

By making note of the eLearning principles and development methodology you will find yourself aligned with the eLearning development process and how you could include eLearning review cycles in the development process. 

eLearning development is based on instructional design principles and models

Some of the common instructional design models include

      1. ADDIE

      2. Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping

      3. Dick and Carey Model

      4. Kemp Design Model

      5. Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction

      6. SAM (Successive Approximation Model)

      7. Agile or rapid prototyping

Out of this ADDIE and SAM had been widely used so far in the industry. But as with every industry, to improve the learning experience, the eLearning development process is constantly evolving. 

And the current most widely used eLearning development method is the Agile development process.

As the agile development method is based on developing short chunks of content, getting it reviewed, and moving on to the next piece of content. By using agile development methods eLearning development teams can build faster and deliver quality online courses. It also allows for multiple stakeholders to participate in the development process, thereby speeding up the process and improving the quality of the online course. 

Here are some of the benefits of using the agile eLearning development process

      1. Promotes collaboration between client and development teams at an early stage.

      2. Better communication and fewer misunderstandings. 

      3. Opportunities for regular feedback.

      4. Easy adoption to changes whenever required. 

      5. Development and Testing can run in parallel, making it easier to correct small chunks of content. 

Components of an eLearning development project

There are various components in eLearning development projects. Let’s take a look at these components and how they come together to create awesome eLearning courses.

Team and Stakeholders - People

In every development project, there are primarily two parties involved in the process. One is a client and the other one is the development team. It requires both parties to collaborate smoothly. The actual test of the collaboration between these parties shows up during the review cycle process. Creating great online courses means enough review and feedback are being shared among the client and the project team.

Development Process

When people come together to collaborate they need a tried and tested process that will help them build great online courses. Without a proper process in place, it is difficult to manage and track the project. For eg. Effective communication is one part of the development process. And both parties should know the dynamics of the communication. 

The tip here is to share a simple understanding as to where to communicate, who is going to review and approve the work, what is the timeline to respond with the fixes, etc.

Tools and Systems

The final component of the eLearning development process is the tools, software, and systems. Use the right set of tools and systems that allows for a collaborative work environment and powerful communication features. After all, there is going to be a lot of feedback and review shared between team members internally and also between project teams and clients.

We at zipBoard understands the challenges instructional designers, e-Learning teams, and clients face in building meaningful learning experiences. This is why our eLearning review tool makes it easier to collaborate and share feedback on courses across the team, right from the subject matter expert to the client.

Development Process

Now that you understand development principles, methodology, and components it time we look at the actual stages in the eLearning development process.

Understanding the objectives, goals, and needs of learners

The first step in the development process is to understand the objectives, goals, and needs of the learners. In this stage project, a kickoff meeting is held to define the scope of work, set up goals and expectations, develop a creative brief, and set up an eLearning review process to be followed throughout the eLearning development process.

Try to keep the discussion high level and not too much focused on actual content. Understand that a kickoff meeting is to align all stakeholders internal and external on the goals and objectives of the project. Finally discuss the project delivery timeline, stakeholders responsible for individual tasks and milestones, and turnaround time for different aspects of the projects.

Storyboard

Before working on creating an online course. A storyboard is the foundation of any eLearning course. It contains the course content, audio script, visuals, and interaction. A storyboard also works and a defined document that has been agreed upon by the client, subject matter experts, instructional designers, and project teams. 

A storyboard can however have iterations to improve and optimize the online course. For finding these optimization opportunities or issues that need to be fixed, you need to first review the storyboard.

Here are the points that need to be reviewed in a storyboard. 

      1. Content is accurate

      2. All topics and important points are covered

      3. The overall structure of the course is correct

      4. Content and modules are in a logical sequence

      5. Correct terminology and phrase are used in the course

Once you have the storyboard for review, go-ahead, and review through the eLearning storyboard thoroughly. And If you find any issues then add it to a zipBoard project, these ways teams or external stakeholders can provide their input and add if something is missing.

storyboard for elearing zipBoard

Build a Prototype

After the storyboard is completed and reviewed it’s time to build the prototype. More often if the kick-off meeting went well and the storyboard was reviewed and confirmed by the client, then building a prototype would be much easier. The prototype doesn’t need to be more than a few screens/sides and some modules. However make sure everything works fine in the prototype, this can be done using the internal review cycle and feedback sharing process. Ask your team members to review the prototype and share their feedback in the review and feedback management tool.

Being able to upload different types of files in the view tools comes in handy here. For eg., zipBoard allows for adding URLs, images, videos, pdf, and SCORM content. So even if you have multiple files associated with the eLearning project you can still review all these within zipBoard. And in case you have created a complete package then you can upload the SCORM content and directly review the files. 

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Get feedback from the client and internal team members

Once the prototype has been reviewed by the internal team you can then proceed to get it reviewed by the client. In case there are any issues or bugs found during the internal team review then try to fix it first hand. A few that are important to be checked in this stage are the visual elements, interactions, and navigation. You should review and fix typography, grammar, and basic formatting of the content. 

When you send the prototype to the client for review try to not allow the client to be able to see the review, comments, or remarks within the system. It just looks professional and is also beneficial to not show all the previous feedback added by the client. Instead, give them the prototype as a fresh file/content for review.

Client Feedback and Team Tasks zipboard

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First Draft

This stage is very crucial for any development process. It is here where project teams would be working on building the first draft of the complete courses. Feedback becomes very crucial in this stage. For the internal teams follow a constant review cycle process so that bugs and issues can be fixed at the earliest. 

Try to get the content reviewed by cross teams and at constant intervals. Designate someone from the team to manage the feedback, someone like the project manager would be the best person to manage the tracking and follow up on the feedback.

Whoever is going to manage and track the feedback, should prioritize the feedback basis on the importance and urgency of the feedback at hand. They should also make sure the feedback is converted into tasks and assigned to the correct person for further handling. This might look too much of work if you would have to do this in an excel sheet but you don’t need to. Best content review and collaborative authoring tools have inbuilt project management features that make the job easier. 

QA Testing

Before you move on with the final QA testing process, make sure you have the tasks and bugs reported in the first draft development fixed already. The quality assurance testing process should only focus on reviewing the complete course as a whole. 

eLearning QA testing can be a complex process and the chance of forgetting various elements to be assessed is high. We have therefore categorized all assessments in 9 categories and built a checklist of 60+ checkpoints. You can get a free copy of the checklist here.

eLearning QA checklist

Read our blog on eLearning Quality Assurance Checklist with use cases and examples

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Final Draft

Finally, your online course is ready to be reviewed by the client. Most often if you followed through with the QA Testing guidelines and assessment provided in the checklist that we shared, there should be no bugs and issues reported by the client.

Conclusion

Review cycles are important in your eLearning development process. It allows for a collaborative environment for both project teams and clients. There are various tools out there and we have curated a list of the best visual reviews, client feedback, and bug tracking tools. 

However irrespective of the tools and system that you wish to use, your review cycle process would matter more. If you follow through the process religiously then you can rest assured that the result will be an awesome course, happy clients, and highly engaged learners.

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