The E-Learning Course is Done. Now What?

e-learning

You built an e-learning course and the client is happy. Now what?

There’s a lot that happens between getting the course uploaded and then delivered to those who need to consume it. And then after that, what happens next?

Here are a few ideas.

Implementation Strategy

Once a course is built, it needs to be rolled out to its intended audience. Often this part of the course construction is out of the hands of the person who builds the course. However, it’s still a major consideration and many clients (especially if they’re internal managers) don’t think through the implementation process. It’s a good thing to have a few questions to ask so that those things are considered as part of the course construction process.

  • Where is the course housed? How does it get there?
  • Who manages the distribution of the course?
  • How do learners know the course is available?
  • How do managers know who needs to take the course and when they completed it?
  • How do managers discern if the course is required or not?

Ongoing Course Considerations

  • How is the effectiveness of the course determined?
  • What data needs to be collected to determine if the course is effective?
  • Who collects and reports the data? At what frequency?
  • Is there feedback on the course? How are adjustments made to it?
  • What about ongoing maintenance? Is the course content reviewed quarterly? Annually? Who owns this?

The points above are not exhaustive. There’s a lot more that needs to happen between after the completed course is delivered to the client.

What are other considerations you’d add to the list?


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Technology Considerations When Building E-Learning Courses

e-learning technology

“Where do I put my e-learning courses?”

The answer to this seems obvious to someone who’re been building courses for a while. However, there are many people new to the industry and it’s a question I get a lot.

Today, we’ll do a quick survey of some common considerations when it comes to getting a course to your learners.

Does the e-learning course need to be tracked?

If so, it needs to be published for a learning management system (LMS) using one of the standard tracking options: SCORM, AICC, or xAPI.

If not, then it can be published for web. You’ll get a folder that can be uploaded to a web server. You can’t track users and their scores, but you can make the course available to anyone.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “What’s an LMS? What’s a web server?” Then you should learn a bit more.

Start here:

Where does the e-learning course go?

Without getting into all of the technical wonkiness, a published e-learning course isn’t much different than a web site. All of the course content sits in a folder which is put on a server.

If you don’t need to track the course, publish for web (as noted above), and upload the course to a web site. From there you can create a URL (link) to share.

If you are uploading it to a web site, it must be one where you have access to the server and can put the course folder on the server. This is not possible with those web site services like Wix and Squarespace.

If you don’t have a server, you can always use something like Google Cloud or Amazon S3 to upload and manage courses. It’s relatively simple and very cost-effective.

If you do need to track your users, then upload the course to an LMS. The LMS is designed to host the course and track individual user access and progress.

For Articulate 360 subscribers, we have a good on-demand webinar series to learn more about Learning Management Systems:

What is the user’s environment like?

Will the end user consume the course on a mobile device or computer? Can they play the course media like audio and video? How will they listen to it? What about accessibility? Can people with other needs consume the course as designed?

These seem to be simple questions, but I’ve worked on projects where the course was great and worked fine, but then when the client tried to implement the training, they discovered that everyone shared one computer and they didn’t have headphones or speakers to hear the audio. Or the course looked great on a laptop but was hard to consume on mobile.

Also, some user locations may be rural or remote, and even today bandwidth is still a consideration. Thus, the experience for the end-user isn’t ideal.

These are just a few of the technical considerations when starting with e-learning. It’s a good thing to learn more about some of the technology associated with e-learning. If possible, connect with an IT person at the frontend to help think through and mitigate some of these things.

If you’ve been building course for a while, what are considerations you’d share with someone just getting started.


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What is an E-Learning Course?

e-learning course

What do you think when someone says, “We need to build an e-learning course?”

My first thought is, “Do you really need a course?”

An “e-learning course” can mean many things and serve many purposes. Some people use the word “course,” but what they really mean is “we need to make content available.” What they see as a course is more like a marketing campaign. And for others a “course” is only a course if it’s focused on performance.

Which gets into understanding what people want and why they want it. Then we can build the right courses.

Information-based Courses

These courses are driven by information-sharing. It could be simple compliance training or information about policy changes. The information is important and impacts work, but at its core it doesn’t change the way work is done. There is no new performance expectation with the course, instead it’s more about awareness of the information.

Sexual harassment training is a good example of this. It’s obviously important (especially if you run a state government) but typically we don’t present the training because there’s an organization full of harassers and then after the training harassment has declined X percentage. Instead, we make people who aren’t harassers aware of sexual harassment issues and policies.

There’s obviously a performance component to not harass and or to understand what to do when we see it, but at its core, the training’s purpose is more about awareness and less about specific changes in performance.

Performance Support Courses

Another way people view “courses” is that they’re performance documents on steroids. Instead of a simple PDF or cheat sheet they build interactive pages using their e-learning software.

Some people say you shouldn’t call that a “course” and instead create a simple cheat sheet or some other performance documentation. I don’t agree. Those courses may be glorified performance documents, but it doesn’t take much more time to create them than a PDF, they can be delivered online, and they’re usually more engaging than simple documents.

Performance-based Courses

And for the training purist, a “course” is something that changes behavior. A course has measurable objectives that teach how to do something and then can be assessed for understanding.

“We expect XYZ to happen (objective). You need to learn ABC (training content) so you can learn how to do XYZ (performance assessment).”

In an ideal world, all courses have meaningful and measurable objectives. But this isn’t always the case. Often, what we call a course, may just be information that’s acquired online, and then the performance-based component happens in real life interactions.

It’s important to acknowledge that while we use the same words, we don’t always mean the same thing. I see this all the time at conferences.

Sam builds linear, explainer content and attends ACME E-Learning Conference where some expert tells him that what he builds is crap and not real e-learning. And then goes on some rant about what is real e-learning.

In the meantime, Sam’s thinking, “We just rolled out a new bonus program and my course is to let them know about the program and what to expect. Am I supposed to build some interactive role-playing scenario where they pretend to be managers who talk with employees about the bonus program? Seems all they need is a few bullet points and links to some resources?”

I try to keep it simple when it comes to building courses. Essentially, it all starts with some content:

  • Why does this content exist?
  • Who needs it?
  • What are they supposed to do with it?

For simple “courses” the only objective is to package and share the content. And for more complex “courses” the focus is on using the content to do something different. And from there, one can build simple linear courses. Or if the course requires some sort of change in behavior the content is structured to mimic the real world and the decisions one must make with the content.

Why is understanding this important?

There’s a lot of back and forth in our industry about e-learning. But while we use the same words we may not be talking about the same things. Understanding why you’re building what you’re building will help you understand how much time and money to commit to building the right product.

I’ve seen simple content converted into long drawn-out scenarios to make them interactive and engaging. They only wasted the learner’s time.

And on the other side, there are courses that required activities to practice and assess understanding but were only presented as screens of bullet points.

Determine a way to classify the types of courses you build. This will help evaluate what resources and effort they require. You’ll save time, money, and make courses better aligned to your objectives.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

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Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

EdTech-Kompass – Orientierung bei Bildungstechnologie-Unternehmen

Das Hochschulforum Digitalisierung hat jetzt einen EdTech-Kompass veröffentlicht. Dazu heißt es: „Im europäischen Vergleich verzeichnet Deutschland relativ wenig Unternehmensgründungen im Bildungsbereich. Dennoch bieten auch heute schon innovative Start-ups Lösungen und sinnvolle Werkzeuge für digitale Lehre an. Dieses Potenzial will das Hochschulforum Digitalisierung mit dem EdTech-Kompass sichtbar machen.“

Mit dem Kompass kann ich zwischen Schulbildung, Hochschulbildung, Beruflicher Bildung und Lebenslangem Lernen wählen. Habe ich einen Bereich ausgewählt, zum Beispiel „Berufliche Bildung“, erscheinen verschiedene Kategorien: Bildungsmanagement, Dienstleistungen, Gamification, Kommunikation, Lehrevaluation, Lern-App, Lernplattform und Umfragesystem. In den einzelnen Kategorien finden sich, Stand heute, zwei oder drei Lösungen, die dann steckbriefartig vorgestellt werden, meist auch mit einem kurzen Erklärvideo. Man kann wohl weitere EdTech-Unternehmen, die in den EdTech-Kompass aufgenommen werden sollen, vorschlagen.

Es gibt übrigens auch ein Diskussionspapier zum Thema („EdTech-Start-ups und Bildungsinstitutionen zusammenbringen“, 9 S.), das die Lage aus Sicht der Hochschulen beschreibt und Herausforderungen und Handlungsempfehlungen enthält.
Barbara Wagner, Hochschulforum Digitalisierung, 24. März 2021

Here’s a Quick Way to Instantly Have Closed Captions

closed aptions for e-learning

A guest post by Elizabeth Pawlicki, Training Program Manager, Articulate.

If you’re a Google Chrome 89+ user you now have access to Live Caption which is an accessibility feature that provides real-time captions for audio that plays through the browser.

This is a really excellent feature for audio that runs through your browser when viewing courses that have videos or narration, especially if the audio doesn’t have captions. Check it out below.

Initial Thoughts on Google Live Caption

I tested the Live Captions on a few different e-learning products that had audio including courses in Storyline 360, Rise 360, and Review 360. The captions worked well, surprisingly well, as you can see in the image below.

Google Live Caption demo closed captions

I also like that even if you turn off the audio, the captions work. As a user I am no longer constrained by whether or not the audio I am consuming has closed captions built-in to the product. The browser does the heavy lifting.

This is a big step forward for those who require captioned audio. I look forward to how this feature evolves going forward.

How to Access Google Live Caption

Google Live Caption closed captions

  • First, make sure you’re using Google Chrome 89 or higher.
  • Click the three dots on the top right.
  • Then go to Settings and select Advanced>Accessibility.
  • Click the toggle for Live Caption.

Once you have enabled Live Caption, you’ll see an option to toggle the captions on and off without going in and out of the settings.

Google Live Caption closed captions toggle

Key Considerations for Google Live Caption

  • This tip requires Google Chrome 89 or above. If you have learners who need captions and you can’t provide them in time, you at least have the option to recommend Chrome 89.
  • It’s a new feature so there are some limitations such as size, position, and language. However, I assume the feature will be enhanced and my guess is other browsers will play catch up.
  • From what I can tell the caption choices in Windows OS don’t seem to impact the captions displayed in the browser.

Google Live Caption is a step in the right direction and a great tool for those who need captions when they’re not provided.



Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

A Quick Tip on Developing Course Content

e-learning course

Here’s a quick tip for those building e-learning courses: as a course developer you serve as the intermediary between the organization and the learner. You are the bridge between both parties.

Not All E-Learning Courses Require Learning

Before we continue, let’s assume that we’re not talking about compliance training which often doesn’t have specific learning objectives. With compliance training, the organization commissions the course to meet some sort of compliance requirement.

However, the person who takes the course wouldn’t be taking it to meet real objectives. They’re only taking it to meet some mandated requirement.

In that world, learning isn’t necessarily the primary objective. It doesn’t mean there’s no learning, it just means that learning isn’t the course objective.

Performance-based Learning Objectives

We’ll assume we’re talking about performance-based training where the organization has a certain objective or requirement for the learner and the learner desires to apply what is learned to meet the organization’s objective.

You as the course developer are a bridge between these two parties. You need to build a course that meets the organization’s goals. At the same time, you need to build a course that is meaningful and relevant to the person who takes it.

How is this done?

  • Put on the performance consulting hat to determine the real training needs.
  • Determine measurable objectives for the course.
  • Ensure the objectives are relevant and meaningful to the learner.

The organization (or customer) has specific needs. The learner has specific needs. Your analysis is about marrying those two needs. What does the organization want to do and what to the learners need to do?

I meet with the customer to understand what they want and why. I also like to know why it’s currently not the way they want it. And then I like to meet with the people who need the training. What are they currently doing? Why aren’t they able to meet the objectives? What do they need?

Often, I find there’s a disconnect between the client’s requirement and how the work is done in the real world. Being a bridge between the two parties helps you identify these issues and work to resolve them.

This is a simple tip but one I see neglected often. One thing you do want to avoid is only taking content from the client and never considering the way it’s used by the person who needs to learn it. I see this all the time and it ensures the least optimal training possible.

What are ways that you bridge the interests between the client and those who take the e-learning courses?


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Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

Things to Consider When Adding Multimedia to E-Learning Projects

multimedia

E-learning courses are mostly screens of content made up of media: text, shapes, illustrations, pictures, and video.

Adding those things to your course is simple, usually just a matter of inserting said media onto the screen. However, building a cohesive course is more than just inserting stuff on a screen. There are other considerations.

Design the Look of the E-Learning Course

What’s on a screen?

  • Fonts. They are more than the text you read; they’re also a graphic. Which fonts are you using in your course? Are they contextually aligned with your content?
  • Shapes. Shapes can have straight edges or rounded; they can have outlines or not. The shape can represent something elegant or informal.
  • Illustrations. There are all sorts of illustrative styles. One popular style today is the corporate Memphis look. Of course, there are many designers who find it to be barren.

And this brings us to a key consideration when working with multimedia: the bullet points above speak to some visual design requirements. Who will design what you need? What is the correct imagery and use of fonts and desired color schemes?

A challenge for many e-learning developers: having ideas about what you want and executing on those ideas is not the same. I see lots of good courses that are not designed well. The cause is usually that the e-learning developer lacks the technical skill to construct the right media.

Create Audio and Video Resources

There are similar considerations for other multimedia such audio and video.

Recording audio is easy and straightforward in most of the authoring tools. However, they don’t tend to have a lot of sophistication when it comes to editing or managing the audio.

For simple audio, recording from the authoring tool is fine. But for longer audio, there are considerations about how to record, who will record it, and how it’s all managed.

You can do it all in-house or DIY, but you do get what you pay for. I figure non-professional talent gives you presentation quality audio. It’s inexpensive, gets the job done, yet isn’t going to be perfect. But it’s not the same as pro-quality narration.

The good thing today is that there are many voice over artists and talent services where getting professional audio at a reasonable cost is viable.

Video is another one of those tricky issues. Today’s smart phones have better capabilities than I had doing professional video work 25 years ago. It’s easy to shoot video and edit it. But there is a significant difference between a DIY video and getting something done professionally. Or at a minimum, spending time on edits to get things to look right and not drag on.

The big question for any of the course’s multimedia is who is going to determine and design what you need? And then who is going to produce the media?

I throw this out because the course will look like something. And you’ll put something on the screen. And there’s a cost associated with it. Doing it yourself may cost less money but may impact the quality of what you produce.

Thus, at the beginning of the project time needs to be spent on the media requirements and production considerations. And then determine if there needs to be a budget to accommodate those requirements.

How do you determine those things when you start an e-learning project?


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

Top 10 Tech Tools for Your L&D Toolkit

Aus L&D-Perspektive werden hier die Systeme und Tools aufgezählt, mit denen man es heute zu tun haben kann. Manche Funktionen werden auch von umfangreichen Learning Management Systemen, Kollaborationsplattformen oder hilfsbereiten Anbietern abgedeckt. Die Spannbreite umfasst die Entwicklung von Lerninhalten und -umgebungen sowie die Moderation von Lernaktivitäten.

1. Course authoring tools
2. Content development tools
3. Learning platforms
4. Online video repositories
5. Online communities
6. Video meeting tools
7. Gamification software
8. Collaboration and communication tools
9. Forms and surveys
10. File sharing and office software
Matthew Brown, Learning Solutions Magazine, 24. Februar 2021

Bildquelle: royalty free (Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Who’s Working on That E-Learning Course with You?

e-learning

One challenge I see for those who are just getting started with e-learning is that while they have the authoring tools to build the courses, they tend to lack the other connections and resources to pull the courses together.

It’s important to build a network of contributors and resources. And this starts with having the right people because they come with the right content, reviews, feedback, and approval.

Here are a few considerations:

  • Client. Someone is commissioning the course. They provide objectives, scope, deadlines, and access to resources. They also sign-off on what is to be done.
  • Subject Matter Experts. You may be the subject matter expert (which is common for e-learning) otherwise you’ll need access to the subject matter experts. And you’ll need to determine the source of truth for the content. And who is the final authority to confirm that?
  • Analyst. You want the learning objectives to be measurable and know the source of measurement; you need access to the metrics and how they’re measured. Otherwise at the end of the project you have no way of knowing if the objectives were met.
  • Project Manager. How is the project managed? There are a lot of steps involved and co-dependent elements between approval of content, assets, assessments, and implementation.
  • Learners. It’s important to get the perspective of the learning audience since they’re the ones who take the courses. I like to pull in new people who just learned the material. They provide a perspective that a seasoned subject matter expert may overlook.
  • Reviewers. Who will review the course? And at what point. It’s a good idea to get the content reviewed and confirmed before investing too much time in building the course. When building the course, especially with interactions and assessments that take more time to build, create quick prototypes and get them tested rather than build complete modules.
  • Programmers. Someone will assemble the course. It may as easy as opening the authoring tool and dropping in content. But you may want to do some hacks or add other elements that require some programming knowledge.
  • Multimedia Developers. Courses consist of visuals and multimedia such as audio and video. Who is designing the look of the course? Do videos need to be recorded and edited? What about special animations? Again, a lot of the simple stuff can be created in the authoring tool, but you may want access to someone who can create custom media.
  • IT Support. From my experience, most of the e-learning problems happen right before implementation. Where does the course live? Who has access to the servers or LMS? What happens with technical issues?
  • Marketing. The marketing team may not play any role in your course design. However, they often have a lot of critical information and collateral that has already been vetted. I’d seek them out for brand consideration, messaging, and media collateral like images and videos.

The reality for many e-learning developers is that they play the role of all (or most) of the people above? If that’s the case, the considerations are still the same. They just need to be scaled back a bit.

Question for you: when you build e-learning courses, how many people tend to work on the course with you? And how much are you doing on your own?


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

Starting an E-Learning Project

e-learning

“Help, I am just getting started with e-learning and don’t know where to start!”

There’s obviously a lot that goes into e-learning. And creating courses can be a bit daunting for those less experienced. So let’s break it down a bit to help you get started.

People Don’t Have Course Deficiencies

People don’t sit around waiting to take e-learning courses. Those courses exist as a solution to something. The goal isn’t to build the course. The goal is to meet some objective and the course is a means to getting there.

This seems obvious, but a lot of e-learning is usually repurposed content with no real connection to any tangible objective.

The best place to started is to make sure you’re building a course to meet a need.

Things to Consider When Getting Started

  • Meet with your client and determine what the training requirements are for the e-learning projects. Your goal is to establish measurable objectives. To do so, you need to know if the request from the client is really met with a training solution. Often, it’s not. Focus on what the expected outcome is and not just that a course is to be built.
  • Get the client thinking. I usually send over a list of a few core questions so that they’re prepared and have thought about some of the issues like the audience and what they hope to accomplish.
  • Determine timelines. When is the project due? How much time do you have to work on it? Is the request in line with time available? What is the least work you can do to meet the objectives?
  • Are there existing resources? Collateral from other projects? Data? If you need access to subject matter experts or others on the team, it’s important to know that and how you’ll get that access.
  • Is there a budget? Many organizations just expect that courses get built because you have the e-learning software, but they don’t offer a budget for the assets and work that may be required to be successful. Find out if there’s a budget.
  • Identify the final authority on who can make the important decisions and sign off on work. And then you want that person involved before you do any significant production. The last thing you want is a “final course” that needs to be reviewed. Ideally, all the content is reviewed and signed off prior to any significant construction.
  • Leave the initial meeting with next steps and action items. And every meeting you have after should require some decisions. If not, don’t have a meeting.

There’s obviously a lot that goes into build an e-learning course and this is just a few quick bullet points. The main things before building any e-learning course: make sure you need a course, determine objectives, and determine who owns the project.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider's Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.