A Basic Overview.
Long before Covid 19, the internet was invented. Since then, companies have been building adaptive reusable online training platforms. It didn’t take a global pandemic for people to recognize the benefits of E-Learning, although it has seen advancement in the last few years.
Since then, the tools and frameworks for creating E-Learning have advanced, dramatically lessening the learning curve for E-Learning startups.
To arrive at a destination, one must know where they are headed. This is true for most things and is often the crux of developing a curriculum.
Curriculum, Authoring, Learning Management
There are three components to a successful E-Learning solution.
- Curriculum – The course, usually broken into a syllabus with defined learning modules. Each module has chapters of information, with quizzes mandated at the end of each module. Short learning exercises can be incorporated in-between quizzes. Identifying the skill level of a user through quizzes, or knowledge checkmarks, is essential to obtain certifications that can be provided upon completion. Expert level quizzes and final exams can boost the clout of your E-Learning program.
- Authoring Tools – Before any writing is started, it’s necessary to pick an authoring tool that will be used to write the content. Authoring tools can vary greatly. Formatting, style guides, and markup language should be considered. Depending on the length of the curriculum, authoring tools can make or break the success of your project. Authoring tools are extremely important if you plan on using the platform for continuing education. If you do not have good writers, it’s a good idea to evaluate a Technical Writing Firm specializing in E-Learning that fits your budget.
- Learning Management System – This is the platform that you have chosen to host your E-Learning course. This system will display and enhance all written content, hosting your E-Learning platform through a graphic user interface (GUI) or internet browser. Creating an LMS from scratch will be expensive. It is better to vet LMS vendors, review pricing and capabilities, and make an educated decision based on your timeline and budget.
If you have been tasked to create an E-Learning or micro-learning curriculum, it’s best not to go at it alone. Chances are you have an ecosystem of subject matter experts, educators, and experts in the field to guide you on your voyage. Knowledge transfer is the first step.
The information-gathering stage is the first step in understanding where you are going. Gaining access to smart people is critical to defining E-Learning objectives. More often than not, subject matter experts may be located in different states, time zones, or even countries, depending on the project size. Aside from helping you understand the topics, they may have other job responsibilities. They may even speak another language or have English as their second language. To gather information, you will need to reach out to others for help.
As the interviewing process progresses, remember that it may be difficult to obtain information twice. It’s best to have a structured process allotted so that when you gather information the first time, you have what you need to author the content. Being unorganized often results in miscommunication and neglect.
Relying on subject matter experts to write content is not the best move forward. As much as we would like to rely on engineers or academics to write, more often than not, they are not able to devote the time and do not possess the acumen needed to write to deadlines. Also, unless they are directly compensated for this project, their effort and time will often be spent on primary job responsibilities.
The Writing Process
Have you ever sat down to write a paper only to find yourself staring at your computer screen for hours? Writing is a process and a skill that requires dedication, timelines, and tenacity. Writing can be like lifting weights; the more often you do it, the better and quicker the results come. Novice writers that have yet to put the time in are less inclined to meet a deadline or milestone.
With every written body of work comes a writing process and style guide. An efficient writing process can make or break your timeline depending on the material’s complexity. Someone once said a goal without a timeline is just an idea. Having actionable deadlines is the most important part of writing. Without active milestones and precise deadlines, writing that should take weeks could bleed into months or longer.
Color reviews are a great way to keep on track. Once a deadline is established, a good writer will have color reviews throughout the process. This holds accountability for the team and writers. The same reviews can be incorporated with subject matter experts while conducting interviews. Good writers are also good project managers and have the ability to dedicate time and goals to writing projects.
Graphics and UX Design
If your company has the budget to source an E-Learning vendor, chances are they will have a team managing and maintaining the User Experience (UX). For companies with no budget for hosted E-Learning platforms and building a product from scratch, having great UX Writers is an important component for developing E-Learning. More often than not, Software as a Service (SaaS) vendors will leave the writing up to the individual or offer additional writing services at a premium cost.
A User Experience Writer, or UX Writer, can tailor E-Learning content to a specific audience. Most out-of-the-box E-Learning vendors will provide access to their software platform. However, the written words on the page fall into the customer’s hands. A UX Writer can develop this content. Whether using an in-house UX Writer or relying on a vendor to provide the service, user experience is crucial when displaying banners, buttons, quizzes, graphics, or calls to action.
Building an E-Learning platform takes project management understanding, is deadline-driven, and requires expert writing skills. The good news is that it can be self-sustaining once you create a platform and dedicate time and resources to its development. Done the first time correctly, you can utilize the platform for new modules, tweaking the content through ongoing writing. Build it for scale, and you will have a platform that can be changed and edited for different content as your organization evolves.
To learn more about Technical Writing E-Learning Services, contact an E-Learning Project Manager today.