E-learning is gradually becoming a profitable niche for starting an online school. A majority of audiences who relied on traditional classrooms are now moving online in search of knowledge and training. From digital marketing or computer programming to Yoga training, one can find an online course developed for each genre.
Above all, multi-national and multi-establishment companies are becoming favorite targets of eLearning software vendors. eLearning software and learning management systems are helping these companies to save millions that they would have been spent on traditional classroom training of their employees spread across the globe. Users across the planet can now access online courses on a central eLearning repository and save a great deal of time, money, and travel required to attend physical classes. In fact, 77% of US companies have already adopted eLearning to train their employee on regular basis.
Related article: Classroom in a Pocket? Creating a Mobile eLearning Environment
Who are key partners of eLearning businesses?
An eLearning business operates as a medium to connect two sides of the population - students and teachers. We also call them learners and trainers. Depending on the objectives, we can classify the key audience as following:
Students and corporates
Students or learners come on-board in search of an online learning material on a specific topic. While, the corporates, as key partners, can be considered to involve in both creation and consumption of online courses. Corporate eLearning occurs when companies create and upload online courses on online learning platforms and employees access them from anywhere.
We can classify the goals of a corporation with eLearning into five parts:
- For products and service training of new employees.
- For tools and software training used by the company.
- For in-service training of old employees on new products, services, and tools.
- For distribution of standard practices used for development, manufacturing, and legal practices.
- For just-in-time job assistance through the immediate delivery of learning resources on mobile phones.
Teachers and trainers
We can find teachers and trainers on the other side of an eLearning software. These users on the platform or the LMS are responsible for creating and sharing the online courses. For example, teachers can create and share online courses for their students. Training departments of corporations can create and share courses with their target audience (employees) for the above five purposes.
Related article: EdTech Startups: To Invest, Or Not To Invest?
Things required to develop an eLearning course
An eLearning course can be defined as a set of interfaces and instructions designed and shared with learners to teach them specific skill or knowledge. Based on the instructions and design, learners can be made to browse the courses in a specific fashion or any random order.
A trainer aiming at developing an online course of his or her own must possess the following resources:
1. E-Learning authoring tool
eLearning authoring tool is an eLearning software that supplies all the tools required to create and design a course on the whole. For example, a particular eLearning authoring tool might come with tools like slide creators, image editors, video editors, quiz programmer etc. All these tools are combined together to form a full-fledged authoring tool in one package.
2. Platform to share the course
Platform or we can also call an eLearning platform, is a central repository of online courses which allows course creators to upload their courses and learners to access these courses. To choose a right platform for your business you need to perform eLearning platforms comparison. You can get an eLearning platform for your online courses in two major ways:
Inbuilt cloud hosting
The same eLearning authoring tool might come with an in-built cloud sharing platform. This cloud sharing can be utilized to upload and share the courses with the learners. Based on the roles, the admin can assign different access levels to the users on the platform. For example, trainers can be allowed to share, delete, and edit the courses while learners can be allowed to only browse the courses.
Uploading on eLearning marketplace
This is another way to share an online course with the users on the Internet. Many eLearning businesses can be found on the Internet, which allows users to upload online courses - these businesses are called eLearning marketplaces. Similar to eCommerce marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, where trainers are the sellers and leaners are the buyers of the products. Of course, you would be paying commissions to the marketplace for your every course sold on their platform.
Related article: How Much Does It Cost to Develop an Educational App
4 stages of eLearning course development
So if you think you possess the above resources, it's about time to create your own online course. Here, you would be following four fundamental stages in sequence to do the same.
Step 1. Analysis
In the analysis phase, a course creator must remember to do an in-depth study of the target audience. The study must clearly answer the following questions:
- What is the course topic?
- Who is the key-audience for the topic?
- What skills are required by the audience to comprehend the course?
- What is the best design approach corresponding to the audience's comprehension level?
- What methods would you adopt for course evaluation and assessment?
The analysis phase must answer all these questions in addition to preparing a clear strategy for the course of action required by the learners to participate in the course.
Step 2. Design and develop
This phase basically includes implanting the analyzed course of action using an eLearning software or eLearning authoring tool. This step is equally responsible for deciding the methods that you would apply to make the course as effective as possible. Using the answers from the first step, you should decide the format of your course; if it would include slides, animations, videos, audio or a combination of all.
The designed course must also answer the following questions to the learners in dedicated sections:
- Who are the target audiences for the course?
- What are the pre-requisite skills required for the course?
- What are the constituents of the course?
- What is the objective of the course?
- What would be the outcome of successful completion?
Moreover, depending on the complexity of the topic, one can choose to divide the course into micro-modules or chapters. Each module can be equipped with a post-completion assessment using online quizzes or MCQ tests.
PS: eLearning authoring tools can be anything that helps you to put together a whole course design. Based on the utilities and goals of eLearning software development, software vendors can offer an array of features in an eLearning authoring tool.
Always choose a software based on your defined objectives for the online course development. For instance, if you are asking going for eLearning software development for corporate learning within your organization, you might not want course monetization features. Course monetization features are crucial only when you intend to sell your courses.
Step 3. Course evaluation and testing
Once, you select an authoring tool and design your course, conduct a full-fledged testing. This phase is very crucial as you would be browsing your designed course from a learner's perspective. The course design and content must clearly fulfill the following objectives to pass the evaluation and testing phase:
- Error-free browsing.
- Full-proof editing for zero grammar mistakes.
- Access to only the specified users.
- Authentic information.
- Accuracy in the flow control.
- Quality control through subject matter experts.
- Feedback system from learners to trainers.
Step 4. LMS hosting
Learning management system is an eLearning software responsible for automating the aspects of physical classroom training (teaching and assessment). Most of the authoring tools and eLearning marketplaces come built-in with LMS features. Additionally, there are also independent LMS available in the market.
Nevertheless, the main purpose of an LMS is to track and evaluate an eLearning process on a platform. An efficient eLearning LMS performs the following tasks to make learning more effective:
- Course management: upload, edit, and delete courses.
- Course evaluation: conduct quizzes and MCQs.
- Track learning progress in numbers; generate assessment and course progress reports.
- Manage users profile and roles: add new users, and assign roles like trainer or learner.
- Manage learner-trainer communication systems: moderate live chat, direct messaging, comments etc.
- Course flow control: manage workflow for course creation and learning progress.
Find an LMS or authoring tool capable of performing at least the above functionalities, and you are good to go.
One can develop a good eLearning course by completing the above four stages in a sequence. Using the right tools and methods, you can always streamline an effective course content and structure. Just remember to study your target audience and prepare a course focused on the corresponding requirements. Teaching is a great responsibility. Better teach less than teaching wrong. Always perform a quality check by preparing the materials in a subject matter expert's guidance. Finally, keep updating your course materials with the changing facts and trends.
This is a guest post by Katie Taylor. Katie is a professional blogger, guest writer and Influencer. Currently associated with Pinlearn as a content marketing strategist.