I'm a training manager and have been asked to write some e-learning material for some in-house product training. Are there any guidelines you can give me?
Designing and writing e-learning content is much more complex than producing classroom material. You need to understand how to organise course material so it is logically ordered and includes plenty of meaningful interaction. You must be able to write precise behavioural objectives and have a clear understanding of learning theory – especially related to learning online.
The ability to design questions and analyse responses are both essential skills. You will also need a good writing style and the ability to adapt to meet the needs of different learners. You must also be able to set up statistically-based validation tests that demonstrate where courses need strengthening or adapting.
You can write acceptable basic e-learning courses using only HTML code. However, access to well-designed authorware will be helpful. Look at a number of demonstrations before you commit yourself. You need to consider whether you will be adding more e-learning courses and, if so, whether the authorware will enable you to manage them. For this, you would be better off with a learning content management system (LCMS) than simple authorware.
E-learners need a lot more support. You could provide e-tutors and ensure the organisation provides face-to-face support. These should be subject experts who provide feedback to learners' exercises. Face-to-face support can come from an in-house ‘mentor’, whose role is to allocate time and resources and provide encouragement.
I would recommend you take some training on an accredited course. There include the Institute of IT Training, the CIPD, Sheffield Hallam University (MSc), Sheffield College and Sherpa Integrated Learning.
Make sure you take a course that deals with learning design, not just the technology, – with an appropriate level of accreditation.
Brian Holley is MD of Sherpa Integrated Learning. He has written Designing and Writing E-learning Content and Effective Online Tutoring www.sherpa.org.uk