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How to build a better eLearning course

Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager
2017-02-14

When building an eLearning course, it’s important to make sure it’s as effective and engaging as possible for your learners. This will help your students or employees get the best learning experience from their online course materials, while in turn making your eLearning course more successful.

If you’re new to this, you may think designing an online course looks quite simple. But as with anything, there are certain principles you can follow for best practice in eLearning.

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To help you out, we’ve put together 5 tips for building a better eLearning course, so you get the best training results from your staff or students.

Establish the kind of training course you need

It sounds simple, but this is an important step to take before you even start to build your online course.

The truth is, there’s no point designing a super complex course if your employees only need a quick and straightforward update on a company policy, for example. Making staff or students spend a lot of time on courses that are overly complicated or time consuming is never a good idea – they’ll resent learning and be wary of future training materials.

Think about the kind of format that’s best to address the needs of your audience. Then get to work on designing and developing your course in line with those needs.

Split your eLearning course into smaller modules

Next, decide if you can break down your course materials into smaller sized pieces. This has a number of benefits – for both you, and your learners.

Designing your eLearning course so that it is can be built and delivered over a series of modules means it will be easier to modify further down the track. It will also make your course more appealing and easier for employees or students to digest. Most people find it easier to read and absorb learning materials in smaller chunks, and can even be turned off by online courses that are too long and time consuming.

Short, succinct modules also allow users greater flexibility, as they can log in and complete each module at a time that’s convenient to them.

Incorporate tasks and activities into eLearning courses

Have you ever sat through a training session, listening to a presenter talk through endless slides of text? This can get very boring and frustrating for learners, while also failing to engage them in the content. Online courses that are nothing more than slabs of information on-screen are just as ineffective.

In contrast, by having students or employees complete tasks and activities throughout the course, you can make it a far more engaging experience. When incorporating activities into your materials, think about the actions your employees will need to take in the workplace. For example, tasks that explore decision making, problem solving and other ‘real world’ scenarios.

Be clear about the outcomes of the course

Be clear about exactly what it is that learners will achieve from completing your online course. Will they receive accreditation in a new skill, for example? Your eLearning course will be more successful if you can state clearly what outcome will be achieved by learners.

Karla Gutierrez, writing for Shift eLearning, believes that “the best eLearning courses … give learners clear and compelling reasons why the content is so important for them to learn. If the course doesn't answer the “what’s in it for me?” from the beginning, learners will not be interested or motivated to continue, no matter how great it looks.”

Gutierrez highlights the importance of gaining the learners’ attention from the start and remembering to apply the “WIIFM – what’s in it for me” rule. Tell users what they’ll be getting out of the course, if you want them to enroll.

Make your online course look good

Last, but not least – make sure your online course looks good. While this may seem superficial, the reality is that when it comes to eLearning, first impressions matter.

In fact, it only takes about 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about your website and decide whether they want to continue or leave. And eLearning courses are no different. After all, eLearning is a visual medium, so you’ll need to spend time getting this right if you want to stand out from the competition.

It’s best to keep things simple when it comes to building an online course. Cluttered, text-heavy screens can distract or confuse users, so stick to clean white space and simple relevant images.

By following these 5 steps, you’ll be making sure your online materials are easy to use, engaging for learners and aesthetically pleasing – the corner stones of a successful eLearning course!

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