eLearning has long become a profitable niche for starting an online business, such as an online school or an online course. 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. We as an e-learning software development company are witnessing the great interest of multi-national and multi-establishment companies in creating custom educational platforms.
eLearning software and learning management systems are helping companies worldwide to save millions that could 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 employees on regular basis.
Who are the 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 follows:
Students and corporates
Students or learners come on board in search of 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 elearning content and upload online courses on 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 eLearning software. These users on the platform or the LMS are responsible for creating elearning content and sharing online courses, i.e. they are the ones behind eLearning development process. For example, teachers can create and share online courses with their students. Training departments of corporations can create and share courses with their target audience (employees) for the above five purposes.
Things required for e Learning course development
An eLearning course can be defined as a set of interfaces and instructions designed and shared with learners to teach them specific skills or knowledge. Based on the instructions and design, learners can be made to browse the courses in a specific fashion or in any random order.
A trainer aiming at developing an online course of their own must possess the following resources:
1. Course builder
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 builders, etc. All these tools are combined together to form a full-fledged authoring tool in one package. Diving deeper into what a course creator module should look like, here are some of the essential functionalities:
Course creator for elearning content development, including lessons, multimedia, assessments, and assignments.
Course management tool to organize your course content into modules and to manage students, including adding or removing students, tracking student progress, and grading assignments and assessments.
Multimedia support to upload and embed multimedia content, such as videos, audio recordings, and images.
Assessments to grade quizzes, tests, and assignments.
Collaboration tools to facilitate student collaboration and interaction, such as discussion forums, chat rooms, and group projects.
Progress tracking to collect student insights and provide feedback to help them stay on track.
Analytics and reporting to collect and analyze data on student performance, engagement, and satisfaction, and to generate reports on this data.
Customization of the look and feel of your course, including branding, colors, and layout.
Mobile friendliness to create a course that is optimized for mobile devices, allowing students to access content and participate in the course on their smartphones or tablets.
- Integration with other tools, such as learning management systems, content management systems, and third-party applications.
2. Platform to share the course
Platform or what we can also call an eLearning platform, is a central repository of online courses that allows course creators to upload their courses and learners to access these courses. To choose the right platform for your business you need to perform an 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 the eLearning marketplace
This is another way to share an online course with 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 every course sold on their platform.
The first type of eLearning software platform requires certain effort to build as well as computing resources. Programmers responsible for developing such a platform are going to do it considering these elements:
Cloud hosting — hosting your course content in the cloud can ensure reliable access to your course from anywhere in the world, without the need for expensive server hardware.
Scalability — a good online course sharing platform should be able to scale up and down as needed, depending on the number of students accessing the course, to ensure a smooth and responsive learning experience.
Security — ensuring that your course content is secure and protected from unauthorized access is critical, especially if you are sharing sensitive information or charging for your course.
Bandwidth — having sufficient bandwidth to handle a high volume of students accessing your course content simultaneously is critical to ensure fast and reliable access to your course.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN) — using it can help to improve the performance and reliability of your course content by caching and delivering it from servers closer to your students.
Related read: How Much Does It Cost to Develop an Educational App?
4 stages of eLearning course development process
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 software based on your defined objectives for 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 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
A 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 such tasks as course management, course evaluation, course flow control, etc. to make learning more effective. Find an LMS or authoring tool capable of performing at least the above functionalities, and you are good to go.
After you launch: Success metrics to look out for
Same as patients come to follow-up examination after they’re out, any product needs evaluation after launch. What do people like and dislike about it? What can you improve?
There are several key metrics that you can use to evaluate the success of your online course. Typically, these are:
Enrollment — the number of students who enroll in your course is an important indicator of its popularity and appeal.
Completion rates — the percentage of students who complete your course is a key metric for measuring the effectiveness of your course content and delivery.
Feedback and reviews — soliciting feedback and reviews from your students can provide valuable insights into what is working well and what could be improved in your course.
Student engagement — seasuring student engagement, such as participation in discussion forums or completion of assignments, can help you to identify which areas of your course are most popular and engaging.
Return on investment (ROI) — if you are charging for your course, evaluating its ROI can help you to determine whether it is generating a profit and whether it is worth continuing to offer in the long term.
Learning outcomes — measuring the learning outcomes of your course, such as the degree to which your students have achieved the intended learning objectives, can help you to assess the overall effectiveness of your course.
- Repeat business — if you have repeat business from students who have taken your course before or if they refer others to take the course, it can be a good indicator of the success of your course.
By evaluating these criteria, you can determine the overall success of your online course and identify areas for improvement in the future. Hope these will give you no insight but positive. If otherwise, remember it’s your chance to improve!
Completing the above four stages in a sequence can greatly help you with the e learning development process. 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 with a subject matter expert's guidance. Finally, keep updating your course materials with the changing facts and trends in your education content development journey.
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.