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General Best Practices for designing eLearning courses

eLearning is different from learning through reading manuals, watching videos, researching on the web, or participating in instructor-led training. That means it should be designed differently to help ensure it is a successful part of your training program.

Following are some general tips for designing your eLearning courses:

  • Many eLearning developers follow the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation) or a modified rapid process that moves through similar stages. Time spent at the analysis and planning stage is very important to the success of your project. It is crucial to determine your audience and their learning needs prior to beginning.
  • Once the analysis and planning is completed, write clear learning objectives to structure your course content. See What is a learning objective? for more information about objectives and how to write them.
  • Align your learning objectives with your knowledge content and media into planned Learning Objects. These break the content into discrete learning topics. See What are Learning Objects? for more information.
  • Include a course introduction with a high-level overview of the course objective, any directions required for navigation and supplemental information, and the final assessment passing score.
  • A clear module introduction including what your audience is expected to learn is important to set the groundwork for achieving that goal. This does not have to be a bullet list of objectives. In many cases, a scenario or situation that describes the value of the topic to the learner is more effective.
  • Review exercises strategically placed in the course help reinforce learning. A general guideline is to add a review every three or four Learning Objects (or about 20-40% of the total Learning Objects). Your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and your analysis help you decide which topics require more attention and review.
  • Write one or more test questions for each Learning Object. Make sure each question addresses the learning objective. Questions can be set for each Learning Object in All Questions mode or Random Questions from a bank of questions. All questions will be “rolled up” into an assessment for the end of the module or course, depending on selected settings. See Writing effective test questions for more information.
  • Module and course conclusions help summarize the learning objectives and give the learner a chance to reflect on what they’re learned. The learner may also be prompted to review any material required prior to moving ahead to take the assessment. A reminder of the passing test score is helpful.
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