Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to Design an E-Learning Course?

Being a Senior Graphic Designer, you tend to gather a lot of insights on tricks and new processes in creating interactive eLearning courses. It isn’t easy to create an interactive educational course as it sounds but there is always a way to go about it. From the experience gathered, I will be sharing some interesting tips and tricks in course designing and how to build one from scratch.

Course designing for eLearning is similar to synchronization of many characters in a play. The play is a hit when all the characters have portrayed their roles without any dubiousness. Likewise, eLearning course designing is very challenging for any instructional designer. You may have numerous ideas on designing a course but when you start to implement it, you are not sure of where to start from and which tools to use. In such cases, the best thing to do is follow the design cycle. This design cycle is a systematic way of putting your creative thoughts into tangible designs for interactive eLearning. Let’s get you acquainted with the seven steps of the cycle of design:

E-Learning Design Cycle Process


Fig.1: Interactive eLearning Course Design Cycle


 

1) Screen Capture:

Firstly, you need to find the appropriate images or you can create your own images by drawing the sketches. You can even download the images from websites or image portals such as fotolia, gettyimages, shutterstock, corbisimages, etc.

Screen Capture


Fig.2 Screen Capture


 

2) Image Editing:

The next thing to do is to tidy up the selected images. When the images are edited, the benefits reaped are that images have more finesse, sharpness, texture and are re-contextualized.

Editiing of an Image

Fig.3 Editing images to give them the final touch as per your design


 

3) Audio and Video Recording:

Based on the requirement of the course, one can add videos and audios to make them interactive. To create good quality audio and video clips one can use the audio and video recorder. For instance, you can use the handy cam, digital video recorder etc or even tools such as screen recorders could be used for creating software simulations and other interactions. Make sure to save them in formats such as .avi, .wmv, .flv, .mpg, .3gp, .mp4, .mov as these are supported by many common tools.

4) Special Artifact Creation:

“An artifact is anything crafted by human hand that is left behind.” So, from the course designing perspective, this artifact could be a product, a training manual, help documentation, project management documentation, or anything else which is tangible. Most of the time artifacts are documentation or diagrams of some sort but they can also be the finished product or some piece of the finished product such as building simulation using Adobe Captivate, avatar building using tools like codebaby, etc.

5) Rapid Interactivity Building:

Rapid interactivity building is creation of an instructionally sound, customized and trackable interaction quickly and easily without any flash programming. Using tools such as Raptivity for interactivity building, course creators can have complete control over the look and feel of the interactions. They can choose from the library of interactions, customize it and publish it in a format which is ready to be used with numerous e-Learning tools.

One should enjoy the versatility of rapid interactivity building tool - Raptivity. The tool works great because you can select the right set of interactions based on various instructional design theories without learning to program the courses in Flash or HTML5 format.

Rapid interactivity builder

Fig.4 Screenshot of Raptivity - Rapid Interactivity Builder


 

6) Content Authoring and Integration:

Content authoring tool is a software application used to create subject specific online content typically for delivery on the World Wide Web (www). Content authoring tools also allow you to create content in other file formats so that the training can be delivered on a CD (compact disc) or in other formats for various uses.

Now, there is a slight difference between course-authoring tools and content-authoring tools which is unknown to many of us. Course-authoring tools allow to create online courses, while content-authoring tools allow to create subject specific online content. Normally, subject specific online content have less features and functionality in comparison with an online course created with a course-authoring tool. Again, this depends upon the software used to create the content. Authoring tools like Elicitus is a good choice for trainers, educators, subject matter experts and other e-learning creators. It requires no programming and even users with no page design experience can create visually appealing courses with it. Let’s take a look at the “Professional Edge Medical Terminology” course designed using Elicitus.

At this stage, one should assemble all the artifacts, interactions, images and videos created in earlier stages. Authoring tool helps put together all these things to create an interactive eLearning course.

7) Testing E-Learning Course

Lastly, the final stage is testing which makes sure that the course works perfectly fine on LMS and various browsers. ‘Testing’ refers to the ability for a course, web application, HTML construct or JavaScript to support all the web browsers. Testing helps a course designer to enhance course accuracy and reduce cost of producing quality course.

With this highly illustrative cycle of design, you can make good quality educational courses for audiences from eLearning and mLearning platforms with minimum fret and a good set of tools. I hope you find this process insightful. Looking forward to your queries and comments below. You can also write to me at info@raptivity.com.