A successful eLearning course is reliant on thorough, thoughtful curriculum development and instructional design. Careful design is especially important in custom eLearning course development and by following eLearning development best practices you can ensure your courses are effective.
Identifying the Course Objectives
Clearly defining the purpose and end goals of a course will greatly inform the course design. By visualizing the end goal, you can more easily navigate eLearning content development. Custom eLearning course development is complex and defining the course objectives is a necessary step in making curriculum development and instructional design clearer.
The Goals of the Course
You must define the goals of the course to guide development. To determine the goals of your course, you need to answer a few questions.
- What do you want to teach?
- What do you want your learner to understand by the end of the course?
- What does your learner want and expect from your course?
The answers to these questions will leave you with your course goals and each goal should be clearly reflected in every aspect of eLearning course development.
The Course’s Level of Competency
Every course is unique and can guide a learner to different levels of competency depending on the course goals. There are 3 levels of learner competency (from lowest to highest understanding) are Awareness, Application, and Mastery:
- Awareness – the learner is informed of a topic or skill but is unable to practically use the information
- Application – the learner can practically use the skills or knowledge they were taught
- Mastery – the learner is proficient enough in a skill to teach others
An awareness level of competency may be sufficient if the goal of a course is to inform employees about a policy change. Application competency should be expected from a course designed to teach an employee how to use a point of sales system. Mastery level competency would be appropriate for a supervisor preparing to support employees at the application level of competency.
eLearning Course Content Design
Effective eLearning courses require an underlying structure that conveys information in a way a learner can easily understand. Use curriculum development and instructional design principles to break your content into smaller sections. Most courses are broken down into modules with each module focusing on a specific lesson. The goal of eLearning content development is to make the content digestible so learners can absorb the content without being overwhelmed by information. There are multiple ways to deliver information and different design models should be considered to discover the ideal delivery method for your content.
Choosing an Instructional Design Model
Instructional design is a systematic process used to drive educational content development. Instructional designers generally work with a design model that provides structure, organization, and a general framework. There are multiple instructional design philosophies and models to choose from with each model offering different strengths and weaknesses. Selecting a design model can drastically change the direction of your course, so it is important you carefully examine a model before adopting it. Some popular design models include ADDIE, AGILE, and Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Choosing Information Delivery Methods
There are various ways to deliver or present a course with different mediums and methods leading to different results. Choosing the ideal delivery method may require user feedback and research to determine what method works for your course. Some popular information delivery methods are:
- Web/Computer-Based Training – learners follow a web/computer-based program that may contain different media (e.g module-based online class)
- Audio lectures – learners listen to audio recordings of a teacher (e.g recorded speech)
- Video lectures – learners watch a video or series of videos to absorb the course material (e.g how-to video)
- Instructor-led training – an instructor guides learners through the course material (e.g traditional classroom)
- Written content – learning takes place through reading text (e.g school textbook)
Testing the Course Design
Receiving feedback from designers, clients, testers, and learners helps to expose flaws in content or strategy so they can be corrected. Incorporate feedback during eLearning content development to ensure the final course is a refined and effective learning experience that accomplishes the established course goals.
Custom eLearning course development can be difficult, but by following eLearning development best practices, you can elevate your course and provide a better learning experience. Should you encounter roadblocks during curriculum development and instructional design, SkillSource offers expert consultants ready to help you perfect your next course.