Instructional Design

Creating an eLearning Course: Part 2 - How

September 9, 2021


If you have not read “CREATINGAN ELEARNING COURSE PART 1,” you can do so here. In part 1 we discussed the WHY behind creating eLearning. In answering that question, as an eLearning designer, you can then begin to plan out HOW you are going to design and develop your eLearning. Right! This is why they hired you in the first place.

This article is not going to go too deep in discussing color schemes, fonts sizes, tools, and other available options to consider when designing an eLearning course. Although we will touch on them, we want to focus on the deeper meaning behind HOW to build an eLearning course. As we will see, the HOW, is largely determined by what you discovered when asking WHY.

In the WHY, you are made aware of things like additional tasks, managerial issues, behavioral issues, social issues, time constraints, technological constraints, etc. All of which can have an impact on a learner and their daily duties. This knowledge is factual and non-debatable. It removes personal preferences and pre-determined biases. It forces two or more people, departments, or organizations to see the root of the problem, face the facts and hopefully allow the two to come to an agreement and be held accountable on HOW an eLearning needs to be developed.

If I asked you, “How did you get to work today?” You may give me one of the responses below:

Response #1:

I walked to the bus from my house, then hopped on the nearest subway and then walked to the closest bus stop and took that bus directly to work.

Image of a bus stop on a snowy day.

Consider this scenario: You had no control over HOW you would get to work or the directions and/or distance traveled during this trip. You had to completely rely on the transportation department and their predetermined set of directions and routes. You had to be on their time schedule, follow their guidelines and adhere to all their rules. Did you get to work? YES. Was it the fastest route? NOT NECESSARILY. Was it the most efficient and effective way to work? MOST LIKELY NOT

Response #2:

I grabbed my road atlas and found the shortest route to drive to work, wrote down the directions, then I jumped in my car and followed my directions. About 15 miles into the trip there was traffic jam because of a car wreck ahead of me. Thankfully, I brought my road atlas with me and created a new route and commenced in driving. It took me twice as long and I was late, but I arrived at work.

Toy car sitting on a map of the United States.

Consider this scenario: You had complete control over HOW you would get to work. You could map out directions for you and everyone else to take to get to work. You could even justify it, by showing that it is the shortest route. However, what’s going on in the rest of the world outside of your road atlas may not be in line with your plans and directions. There are so many unknowns, that your pre-determined plan cannot take into consideration.

Response #3:

I hopped in my car, pulled out my trusty GPS with real time traffic updates and typed in the address of my job and then commenced in following the real time directions. About ten miles into the trip my GPS notified me of a crash ahead and recommended I take an alternate route. While on the alternate route another road opened that would make my trip 5 min faster, so I took that route and was able to still arrive at work on time.

GPS system in a modern vehicle.

Consider this scenario: In this example you are in the driver’s seat, however you are relying on your GPS (a third-party unbiased system) that simply provides you facts that you can use to determine the best route to take to work. The transportation system is not dictating a direction and the GPS isn’t forcing you to go down a certain road. The GPS is simply looking ahead of your trip and giving you the facts and based on those facts, giving you a recommendation.

Back to the Design

Let’s bring this back to the design realm now. Essentially, we are looking at who is in control. The client, the designer, or the FACTS. Check out the table below:

Client Controlled Designer Controlled Facts Controlled
It may be very structured, detailed and organized, however it may not provide the timeliest, experience and learner focused training. May have a pretty look and feel and use the latest technology, however it may not take into consideration what’s happening outside of their design world. This is not a fix all, but it removes the bias and allows the facts to dictate the design and development of the eLearning course.

So, let’s answer our question now. HOW DO I CREATE AN ELEARNING COURSE?...

Let’s take into consideration once again the FICTICIOUS scenarios we looked at in “CREATING AN ELEARNING COURSE PART 1.

If you remember, in the first scenario we discovered that an eLearning course may not be the best solution because there were potential managerial issues that needed to be dealt with. However, in the second scenario we were able to get some valuable information. Although the questions and answers may not have been very exhaustive, they did provide some information that can begin to help us determine the HOW. Check out the questions and answers below:

A group of coworkers in an informal meeting.

Scenario #2

Your sales department head requests an eLearning to helpmeet sales revenue which has dropped below the intended goals for the past 3months.

You begin to ask the questions:

WHY has the sales revenue drop below the intended goals?

  • Answer: Possibly a couple of reasons. We just changed management and we also just installed a new sales software that I believe the sales representatives are not familiar with.

WHY will this eLearning help meet the sales revenue?

  • Answer: A new sales software has been installed and the sales reps are having a difficult time understanding its operation. I believe that an eLearning on the operation of this software will bring our sales representatives up to speed and help get them back on track.

WHAT changed 3 months ago?

  • Answer: New management came in and changed the sales software.

HOW MUCH time will you allot the sales team to have to participate in the eLearning course?

  • Answer: 2 Hours / week

WHEN will the sales representatives be able to take the e-learning?

  • Answer: They can take the 1st hour each day when they arrive to participate in the e-learning course until it is complete.
Consider what facts you can derive from these answers.
  1. A new sales software was installed.
  2. Sales representatives are unfamiliar.
  3. The reis new management in the sales department now
  4. New management made quick changes that possibly altered behavior
  5. Training is limited to 2 hours / week at the 1st hour of each day until completed
These are simply facts, and nobody is dictating anything at this point. Taking this data there are already a few determining factors in creating this eLearning course.
  1. There is a knowledge gap between the new software and the sales representatives so this may lead to a TASK ANALYSIS to determine the best way to use the software and then create an eLearning that trains the sales representatives on the proper use of the system.
  2. This training can be at most, only 2 hours in length.

Again, this is non-exhaustive, and you can probably already begin to think of more questions that you would like to ask the department head, sales representatives and even yourself at this point to help determine HOW to create this course. However, the point to make here is that if you had not asked the WHY, then you are left to client controlled or department controlled, creation of an eLearning which may or may not lead to you achieving the desired result of helping the sales representatives meet their monthly sales revenue goals.

At this point, once you have your questions answered and you have factual information to guide the development of the creation of this course, then you can determine HOW you are going to go about creating this eLearning. Maybe you will decide a simple Job Aid is all that is needed. Possibly some quick screencasts or video tutorials. With 2 hours of available actual training time, you might also decide to use tools like Articulate Storyline 360 and create a “Show – Try – Test” interactive environment in which the learners can have a simulated sales software to practice in. Quite honestly, you may even be able to create all those items if your development time allows for it.

Garrett Berry
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