Learning & Development

How to Create a Successful eLearning Course: 8 Steps

Thanks to the increase in remote work and demand for self-directed learning options, eLearning is being widely adopted by trainers. In many offices, it has become the preferred method for delivering training content.

This leaves trainers with a challenge — how to create an eLearning course that is effective and helps to engage learners.

[FREE DOWNLOAD: How to Develop a Training Manual in 6 Steps]

Step #1: Understand Your Audience

Before you engage in the complex process of eLearning course design, you have to get to know your target audience. If your online course isn’t structured to meet their needs, participants aren’t going to get much out of the training material you present.

Gather insights to learn how to build an eLearning course that engages participants and provides useful information to them.

To do this, you’ll need the cooperation of trainees, supervisors, and other stakeholders. You can use surveys, assessments, and interviews to develop a well-rounded understanding of each group’s needs and goals.

Step #2: Create and Communicate Learning Objectives

Training participants tend to be most engaged and get the most out of eLearning when they understand the “why”. To ensure this happens, create clear learning objectives and communicate them in a way that helps trainees see the value in taking part.

This can often be more challenging than trainers realize. Frequently, objectives are written in a way that focuses on the instructor’s goals instead of the participants’ goals.

Additionally, trainers often use jargon that makes learning objectives needlessly difficult to understand. 

To be fully successful, learning objectives should be SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

[FREE DOWNLOAD: Training Objectives: Set SMART Goals]

Many trainers find it helpful to break objectives into knowledge, skills, and attitude (KSA). This approach to writing learning objectives can ensure that a program addresses all necessary components. 

You may find that you identify several learning objectives that will need to be achieved in order for your eLearning course to be successful.

This is a good thing; it will help you when it’s time to lay out the course plans and create the curriculum.

Instructional Design Evaluation Template

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Step #3: Get the Right Stakeholders Involved

Who should implement the eLearning course development process? Your first instinct might be to find a subject matter expert (SME). This may not be the best approach.

While an SME should absolutely participate by helping to create eLearning courses and identifying the skills participants should master.

They may not have the same perspective as trainees who are seeking understanding and achievement. Additionally, training involves skills that exist separately from subject mastery. 

This phase of eLearning course design should involve a range of stakeholders, including:

  • Subject matter experts
  • Team leaders
  • Curriculum designers
  • Presenters
  • Multimedia experts

These stakeholders can work together to create online courses that engage trainees, is visually appealing, and creates outcomes that align with business objectives.

Step #4: Develop a Course Outline

An online course outline will provide a roadmap that ensures that every eLearning module connects to learning outcomes. 

To get more out of any outline you create, include as much detail as possible. Write out the key points you want to address, and make notes on where you want to include activities and assessments. 

Break Things Down

If you have multiple training objectives, you may find that one eLearning course is best delivered in a series of training modules. Each can be created to address a single learning objective while working towards a bigger training goal.

Many companies are embracing a modularized approach through a microlearning course. This approach helps trainees better understand and retain concepts.

It also creates a shorter feedback loop that allows you to improve the learning process.

By breaking things down, you help participants avoid the cognitive overload that can happen when they try to master too many things at once.

You may also find that your participation rates improve when you implement a modular strategy. 

It’s often easier for trainees to take part in an eLearning class that takes a few hours rather than one that ties them up for several days. Plus, a shorter class will probably get more buy-in from managers.

Create Learning Pathways

There’s another benefit to creating and delivering smaller training modules. Not every participant is going to need to cover the entire course.

For example, imagine you are creating an online course to help your team members master a new system for tracking leads. You create objectives that cover:

  • Entering prospect and pipeline information
  • Generating and understanding reports
  • Assigning value to and prioritizing leads
  • Creating user accounts and assigning privileges
  • Tracking leads by team

If you try to cover every one of these objectives in a single e-Learning course, it won’t just be overwhelming – some participants will have to sit through a curriculum that may not be relevant to them.

However, if you modularize lessons by incorporating bite-size learning, people can take the courses that are relevant to them.

By taking this approach, you can create eLearning courses that empower workers to take control of their own training and professional development.

Team members can use time set aside for personal education to complete modules in their personalized learning pathways.

With an individualized method, employees may be motivated to achieve their own goals.

Step #5: Offer Different Learning Activities

In order to create a successful eLearning course for all of your trainees, keep in mind that you will be targeting people with a range of learning styles and experiences. Your instructional design should reflect this.

Some participants may absorb information best by simply listening or watching and writing things down.

Others may need to participate in a more interactive way to achieve their learning objectives.

Visual learners will likely seek out information through videos and graphics.

The best way to accommodate such a wide range of needs is to offer a variety of learning activities. This ensures that everyone who participates can take part in the activity that is most beneficial to them.

Step #6: Integrate Assessments into Every Phase

Instructional designers know that assessments are a key part of any training initiative. Still, many of them underutilize this important tool by using them only at the end of each course.

Instead, build assessments into different phases of each learning module.

Assessments before the course can establish benchmarks and reveal skills mastery that a participant has already obtained.

During each course module, try to integrate interactive quizzes after covering important topics.

Based on the results of their assessments, trainees will know if they’ve fully achieved the objective or if they need to repeat the module.

The questions you present in the pre-assessment should reveal the most important points that participants will learn during the training program.

Just like trainees respond differently to various teaching methods, they also perform better when offered a range of assessments. Mix things up with multiple-choice, short-written answers, essays, and more. 

Of course, take advantage of the digital format you are using to make things as interactive as possible. This includes offering trainees feedback in real time.

Assessments shouldn’t be used solely for the purpose of informing the instructional designer. They should also empower employees to track their own learner progress.

Step #7: Use Tools to Boost Production Values

Not to prioritize style over substance, but when it comes to eLearning, looks really do matter.

When you incorporate engaging visual elements and interactive features, your trainees will stay focused on course tasks long enough to better master the material.

One of the primary tools that you’ll use to build your modules is an eLearning course authoring tool. You’ll use them to create eLearning content, including course content, quizzes, interactive exercises, learning paths, and more. 

In addition to the structural parts of a course, you may wish to create and edit images, videos, and create graphics to include in your lessons.

A powerful set of authoring tools and learning management systems will help you craft visual online resources that enhance your modules.

You can make your online course look exactly the way you want it with video editing software, audio production, editing apps, and graphic design tools. 

Don’t overlook small details that can improve the production values of your online training. For example, the way that you design a PowerPoint presentation slide can significantly impact how well your trainees absorb information.

Avoid crowding them with too many images, and make sure to split multiple concepts across several slides. Bullet points, headings, and whitespace are also effective ways to increase readability. 

If you curate training video content, edit things out so that trainees only have to view the most relevant parts. This saves time, keeps the online course flowing smoothly, and helps avoid frustration.

Step #8: Continually Tie Things Back to Real-World Benefits

Ideally, you communicated course objectives that help trainees see the real-life applications of what they’re learning. That’s good, but to keep them engaged, you’ll have to circle back to this point continually.

While you develop the online learning curriculum, find opportunities to connect what teams are learning to their daily tasks and objectives.

As you create an eLearning course, integrate information that they can apply in their own roles. It can be helpful to use real-world examples, such as relevant stories from your own experiences. Where possible, share case studies that will resonate with participants.

Design training initiatives with this in mind as well. Build exercises around scenarios that trainees will experience in real life. To illustrate entire situations, make sure to demonstrate outcomes that learners will see when they apply their knowledge.

Using a modern LMS to build a successful eLearning course

Once you know how to build an eLearning course, you realize just how complex the learning process can be.

You need the right learning platform to create and deliver eLearning content to your staff.

Continu is a modern learning management system that has all of the features you need to implement a successful eLearning project, such as:

  • Powerful eLearning authoring software
  • Develop an effective microlearning course
  • Track and measure learner progress
  • Create assessments, quizzes, and gamified elements
  • Deliver eLearning content to anyone, anywhere, anytime

Plus much, much more...

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Continu is the #1 modern learning platform built to help companies scale and consolidate learning. From training customers to employees, Continu is the only platform you need for all learning.

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