Investing in an eLearning Solution? An Insight for L&D Managers



You have a learning gap to fill, compliance to meet or information that you need to share with your staff. A viable solution that you have either decided on or are considering may be eLearning.

If you are not familiar with launching an eLearning project, you may be asking questions like these ones:

- What is involved in launching an eLearning module?
- What would the process of designing, developing and launching an eLearning module look like?

Our team at Belvista Studios know what it is like to juggle leadership programs, face-to-face training courses, coaching sessions and online learning. Our team is also extremely passionate about designing, developing and delivering eLearning projects. This is why we want to provide you with advice and support for your eLearning ventures, so that you don’t need to spend time (that you don’t have) learning what works and what doesn’t when it comes to eLearning.

You can utilise this process to create eLearning internally or familiarise yourself with the process that you may be involved in when engaging with external vendors.

This process has been created from our own experience of partnering with teams, just like yours, to deliver successful eLearning.

1. Define the Problem

A mistake that you want to avoid is solving the problem before you have a deep understanding of it. You may require a training course, however, what is the bigger goal in mind? This goal will be the reason why the training is needed in the first place.

You can make your life easier by making your goal specific. A specific goal enables you to gain a deep understanding of the business problem and enables you to design your solution around it. To enable yourself to discover what the specific goal is, ask yourself:

What is currently being measured that tells you that there is a problem? (Moore, 2018).

Look through the data that you have available to you, speak to key stakeholders (anyone related to the problem) and like the role of an investigator, discover the core problem.

This step is extremely important and will send you on the path of solving the ‘right’ problem, rather than spending time and money on a solution that will not make a difference.



2. Is eLearning the Solution?

Not all problems are solved through a training course. Whilst it may seem tempting to find all the information relevant to the goal and put it straight into a course, there may be a better way. The last thing you want to do is spend time or money on an eLearning project that is not necessary and could have been solved through a PDF or team catch up.

The best way to decide if training is the solution is by speaking to the people involved in the problem (and most likely the future users of your eLearning project). They may provide you with insights that could completely change the direction of your learning solution.

To provide an example, I want you to imagine that this is your problem:

Phone customers are unhappy with the wait time involved when staff are entering their details into the system.

For this problem, you may decide to create a training module that educates staff on how to use the system and enter data in efficiently. Though once you speak to staff it is revealed that the system is old and takes long periods of time to save each time a line of data is entered. This problem is therefore not solved through an eLearning module. Training staff on using the system will have no impact on the actual problem, which is that the system is old and slow.



3. Prepare the Content

If you have decided that an eLearning course is the right solution, it’s time to collect the necessary information to create the course.

Here are some ways to collect your information:

- Review guidelines, directives and processes.
- Speak with subject matter experts.
- Interview learners.
- Observe learners in their environment.

Inspired from Cathy Moore’s Action Mapping process, an important consideration when preparing your content is to decipher the ‘Nice to Know’ versus ‘Need to Know’ information (Moore, 2018). Sort through the content that you have and pick out the information that is necessary for the learner to know, to meet the learning objectives.



4. Select Authoring Tools and Storyboard

Prior to storyboarding, we highly recommend deciding on the authoring tools that will be used for the project. By selecting your authoring tools at this stage, you will have an understanding of what is possible for the module and create your storyboard accordingly.

An example of this is if you were planning on creating animations as part of your eLearning solution. Let’s say that you storyboard a fire burning a house down, only to realise at the development stage, that the program does not have a fire asset. You can see how this can potentially result in you needing to scrap the storyboard and start again or find a different authoring tool. This is not something that you want to deal with at this stage of the project.

Once you know what is possible from the authoring tools that you have selected, you can begin to storyboard. You may be thinking…

Why do we need a storyboard?

Imagine building a house without any form of plan? Imagine the possible poor outcomes of things not fitting together or it not being functional. Well, the exact same goes for eLearning. Planning and storyboarding your eLearning is crucial to creating well thought out and effective learning solutions.

To gain some tips on how to best storyboard your eLearning solution, check out our blog on ‘How to Create Effective Storyboards’ here.

We also recommend utilising instructional design methodology and frameworks to enable you to storyboard an engaging course. For inspiration, check out these blogs:

- ‘How Action Mapping Can Transform Your Learning Solutions’ 
- ‘Creating Engaging eLearning activities’
- ‘Why You Should Incorporate Scenarios into your eLearning’


An example of a simple storyboard created at Belvista Studios.

5. Create a Prototype and Test

Prototyping is a way of testing a new idea or concept (Ballantyne & Farrer, 2011).

For your eLearning project this could involve creating a few sample screens and testing them with some of your learners. In asking them questions and observing them while they test the learning, you can consider the following things:

- Are they able to easily figure out the navigation?
- Do they seem engaged and interested in the learning?
- How much information did they retain from the learning experience?
- Would they suggest improving any parts of the learning experience?

Asking these questions at the initial stages of the development process enables you to adjust the design where necessary to ensure the module is user friendly, engaging and fit for purpose.



6. Time to Develop

Once you have refined your prototype and are confident that it is fit for purpose, you can move on to developing the rest of the course.

It is important that the storyboard is used throughout this whole process to ensure that the module meets its original objectives.



7. Quality Assurance (QA)

Once the course is developed, it’s time for a QA process.

Imagine you are completing an eLearning course. You are on the second screen of the module when you notice that there is a spelling error. You then go to click the back button, and nothing happens. Imagine errors like this taking place throughout the whole learning experience.

The QA process may sound like a simple task, however, there can be a lot involved to get it right and launch your module with the quality that it deserves. That’s why we want to share with you what we have learnt about QA and how you can make your process as effective and efficient as possible. To learn more about this, check out this blog on ‘Top Tips for Quality Assurance in eLearning’ here.




Whether you would like to use it to create eLearning internally or have gained an idea of what’s involved if you engage an external vendor, we hope that this blog added value to you. 

If you feel like you are entering the unknown with your eLearning project, use this blog as a trusty guide. Just like you, at Belvista Studios, we are passionate about creating solutions that make a difference and we know that this process is an enabler of this. If you have any questions or would like further support with an eLearning project, don’t hesitate to contact our lead Instructional Designer and Founder Kim Tuohy via email (kim@belvistastudios.com) or LinkedIn.

                                                         References

Ballantyne, P., & Farrer, R. (2011). What is Prototyping. Retrieved from https://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/what-is-prototyping/.

Moore, C. (2018). Action Mapping on One Page. Retrieved from http://blog.cathy-moore.com/online-learning-conference-anti-handout/.

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