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New to E-Learning? Here’s Where to Get Started

  • April 10, 2018
  • VAIRKKO

eLearning is sweeping businesses corporate training departments and before long each company will probably embrace some aspect of online training - whether it is through the onboarding of employees, tracking continuing education units, or the other various ways that elearning can be adopted to enhance education. But everyone is a beginner at some point. Whether you are just starting out with building out online courses for employees, or you have developed many that are currently being used across the organization - developing a unified and organized approach can save time and money for your department and create expectations for the level of attention and involvement each course should get. We have created a great outline to follow when working through each one of your courses from preparation to fine-tuning.  

PREPARATION

Create a learning strategy.

What types of information are you working to disseminate throughout the organization or department? What are the main objectives of teaching this information? Defining and outlining your aims by identifying knowledge gaps within your organization will help to provide a common goal to refer back to when evaluating the course and its associated content. When you are clear and succinct about your mission for developing a course, it is easy for each team member to justify why they have added or taken out content within each course. This learning strategy will set the stage for all future interactions with the material whether it is within the context of creation or evaluation.

Set quantitative goals and definitions of success.

This is easier said than done. What will help the organization understand whether or not this course achieved what it set out to achieve? Is there a way to measure recall of information, or time to completion to measure some other objective? Make a list of measurable outcomes you would like to see take place and use this to further refine your learning strategy.

Get senior level buy-in.

When preparing your course creation it is important to get buy-in from decision makers and enforcers. These are people within the organization that will be in charge of ensuring independent contributors are learning the material and applying their new knowledge to their job function and role. Communicate issues, goals and expectations to stakeholders. Make sure they understand the value of a new e-learning program. Not to mention, ask for feedback from managers to ensure you are working on the most pressing issues for the organization in terms of lack of knowledge or areas of weakness.

Identify a solution that fits both the goals and learners.

Keep in mind the age and background of users, their level of technology adoption and what sort of devices they will be using to access learning content. This is a great time to try out many different ways of content production, from classroom learning to online courses, and within those courses working through powerpoints, videos, articles and more to convey different messages and hit every learning style.

DEVELOPMENT

Ask internal subject matter experts to summarize content.

Since it is unlikely that the person developing the content for all subjects to be covered within courses is not actually an expert - identify the experts within your organization and ask them to share their expertise with you. Not only will this save development and research time, it will introduce new thought leaders across the organization, inspire leadership from those that otherwise would not take initiative and identify individuals that can be leaned on by the organization for their expertise. While some people may not self-identify as an expert on a topic - ask peers and managers to identify the employees that are great at a particular area and reach out to the individuals accordingly. 

Assess the technical requirements that are needed from a security perspective as well as access for each individual user.

This can be discussed with your vendor and IT personnel. If your LMS will be handling sensitive information it is a good idea to check with the security standards of your learning management system provider - especially if you are in an industry that relies on the use of particularly sensitive identity information.

Instructional Design.

Without going through the in-depth principles of instructional design, ensuring that your content adheres to good design principles to increase the effectiveness, appeal and efficiency of each of the courses that are offered is important to transfer the largest amount of knowledge to students.

Begin to Design and Develop.

Keep in mind accessibility and usability when choosing fonts and colors, it’s not something we think about often - especially if we do not see it - but for those that are colorblind, reading on a screen with wacky colors can be increasingly difficult. Check out some tips in this article about designing web content for color blind, not to mention avoiding color combinations that hurt the eyes.

A group of collaborators working to product elearning content for an upcoming training.

ASSESSMENT

Pilot.

While not always necessary, ask an internal group of stakeholders to test and review your learning campaign to ensure optimization before releasing the content to the entire organization. This will allow for any mistakes to be caught, big or small, before the campaign goes live. Garnering this additional feedback can save you lots of energy from reproducing content to push out to employees after they have already walked through the lesson once before. 

Amend where necessary.

Use this feedback to really hone in on troublesome areas within the content - this isn’t just about spelling mistakes - but can also be about big takeaways that need a little bit more refining. These incremental changes will help to ensure that all bases are covered and any set of eyes on the content will help make your content the best it can be. This process does not stop after the pilot program, instead think of this as continual - each group of employees that works through the content should have the opportunity to provide feedback and make it better for the next set of employees that must work through the content. Something important to keep in mind, this feedback is not personal. This probably goes without saying, but is worth the reminder, at this point you have spent a lot of time and energy on creating resources and content that will begin to feel like your child. When receiving feedback from individuals that did not put all their time, energy, and talent into creating these courses - it begins to feel personal. It’s not. Take it with a grain of salt, be mindful of the consistent feedback and make adjustments as necessary.  

Collect data on learner progress.

This can tie back to the quantitative goals for success, but doesn’t necessarily have to. Collecting this type of progress can be important for setting deadlines in the future, understanding where users might need a little more information and progress over time is nice to know for developmental milestones and objectives outside of learning. Setting standards and expectations are easier once you have a few rounds of information to go off of and you can be more objective when setting these progress points. 

Assess the success of your e-learning.

This is intentionally vague, because success will look different for each corporation, department or job role. What success looks like may change over time and that’s okay. It’s vital to keep pushing the limits of your learning program and to celebrate how far you have come!

Getting started is the toughest part of creating an elearning course, whether it is for job role-specific knowledge, onboarding, or anything in between, using these steps to continue improving your modules and continue pushing the limits in your training will do wonders for your program.

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