When you make an e-learning course, there are many things to consider for ensuring the quality and effectiveness of the course. For the next step in my internship at Easygenerator, I started looking at some important points that improve the didactics of the courses. I created a kind of didactical flow to illustrate the various steps in making an e-learning course. There is a division in two main lines in the flow, namely the “what” and “how”.
Defining what you want to achieve with an e-learning course
Step 1: Clarifying the problem: Why do I make this e-learning course? What is the problem?
Step 2: Set the goal: It is important to keep in mind both the authors’ perspective and the learners’ perspective. What do I want to achieve with this e-learning course? What do the learners want to achieve when taking this course? Do I want to teach or test? Do the learners want to learn something or actually be tested? (e.g. they need to pass a test about the norms and values of the company, OR they need to learn something and accomplish personal development). When do I want my learners to achieve this, over what period of time, and in which context? These are important questions that need to be asked. The answer to the question why a course should be taken and the initial goal of the course, needs to be clear to keep your learners motivated.
Step 3: Setting the context: Who are the learners? Their interests, their current skill sets, and their level of experience is the key to determining your learning goals. Where should the e-learning take place, in which context (e.g. at home, at work…).
Step 4: Creating learning objectives: Creating subgoals in the shape of learning objectives is the fourth step. What specifically do I want my learners to learn? Here the author needs to focus on specific skills. These learning objectives provide the input of the course. Here it is interesting to use Blooms’ taxonomy to organize objectives and make a distinction between higher order and lower order skills. Both learner and preceptor need to understand the purpose of the course and that is why it is important that the learning objectives are available.
Step 5: Defining learning outcomes: Connect these learning objectives to specific learning outcomes of the e-Learning course. They refer to the concrete products of the course. These outcomes present the evidence of the achieved learning goals and make clear what the student will be able to do. Clear and measurable criteria should be drafted, for guiding the teaching, learning and assessment process.
The second line in the didactical flow: how you construct an e-learning course
Step 1: Structure of the course: You need to build the main structure of your e-learning course. What is the story I want to tell? Create different sections of chapters and connect them to the learning objectives.
Step 2: Assessment: Decide how you want to assess your students’ e-learning in the different sections. How are you going to measure the outcomes you set for the course? How will you prove the goals are achieved? These types of assessment also need to be connected to the learning objectives.
Step 3: Presentation of the content: Now you start creating the content of the e-learning course. Here it is important to keep in mind, not to give more information than your assessment requires. Also consider different types of presenting the content to the learners (video, voice-over, text…). Not every student learns in the same way.
Step 4: Feedback: Provide the learners with decent feedback. Positive feedback stimulates them to learn more and keep them motivated. Negative feedback stimulates correction of their errors in relation to the original learning. So this is an important aspect of a course when you want to improve learning at all times.
Step 5: Reflection: In conclusion, you let your learners reflect upon the learning process. Based on the learning objectives, did they achieve the goals? Did they learn what they expected?