5 Tips on Designing and Developing Impactful E-Learning

Regardless of your level of experience in creating e-learning courses, designing an asynchronous learning experience is a very different challenge than authoring an instructor-led classroom or live online course. It’s more than a set of PowerPoint slides; The learner has to experience real scenarios, try out tasks and receive feedback in the process. A smiley and a “thumbs up” symbol at the end of the training performance is not enough.

As a certified ATD Master Trainer and certified ATD Master Instructional Designeraccepted APTD® holder, and Senior Internal Facilitator at ATD, I understand the value of solid training plans and strong facilitation. Here are the top five lessons I’ve learned designing and developing asynchronous eLearning programs:

1. Choose quality training resources.

To learn the fundamentals, take a credible e-learning instructional design training course—one that offers research-based content and personalized learning. The value of an experienced trainer is critical, but just as important is a course that allows for peer-to-peer interactions. Look for a course that takes a practical, actionable approach to instructional design. You should receive tools and learn methods that you can use immediately and effectively in your work.

2. Appreciate the size and variety of your skills.

You have to do more than you realize. Is your job title
instructional designer or something similar? If so, get ready to add a few more titles below
. storyteller. graphic designer. Investigative journalist. QA tester. Writer. You may need to play all of these roles when designing and developing an e-learning course. Assess your strengths and weaknesses. It’s okay to outsource an element or two of the project—like voiceover or artwork creation—to experts.

3. Review your work before you post it.

Once, due to time constraints, I had to roll out a series of e-learning modules without a full QA review or pilot phase. In fact, I was the only reviewer prior to implementation! Guess what happened. The learners sent me an email. “Nikki, I wanted to let you know that I can’t go past the fifth slide; e-learning put me in a loop.” If you find yourself in a similar situation, try this: Ask a designated learner to complete the course while you watch over their shoulder or via screen sharing. You will be amazed at the small hiccups that arise
someone else navigates through the course.

4. File management is the key to long-term success.

All organizations have process changes, so updates are required. If you don’t have access to the original eLearning course files, you’re back to square one. When a team member of mine went on maternity leave, I was asked to correct a quiz question. Very simple – if I had the file. It was on my teammate’s desktop and I had no way to get it. I had to completely rebuild the course to correct a single quiz question. Store files in one accessible, central location.

5. Authoring tool expertise is not enough.

My authoring tools class attendees go home with confidence because they can use variables and markers, add animations and triggers, and create quizzes with ease. However, you may not have mastered the art of
design. What does your organization want the learner to be able to do?
do at the end of the e-learning course? It is usually not “surprising how much interactive functionality the developer was able to perform within the authoring tool”. Use design to enhance the learning experience and don’t distract from it.

Let your remote learners practice with you in real time. Make a screen simulation with a try-it mode and let them complete the steps. And don’t create a complicated quiz on something like the process of co-signing a document. This memory test is not what you will end up doing at work! Hopefully these tips will help you design and develop more successful asynchronous eLearning programs.

“For more than 75 years, ATD Education has equipped talent development professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to thrive and remain competitive. For more than two decades, ATD has been a leader in setting the standards for and delivering online learning programs. ATD’s live, online and on-demand courses have enabled professionals around the world to continuously learn and acquire the essential skills needed to transform our workplaces and societies. As an established industry resource that continually adapts to the evolving talent landscape, ATD Education has the courses, certificate programs, and professional credentials leaders need.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on eLearning industry.

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