Create E-learning content that actually works

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Claned

Cre­ating engaging E-learning content isn’t often easy, at least not at first. You need to learn new tools, adapt to diverse online teaching envir­on­ments and maybe even change your whole mindset about learning. Don’t get dis­couraged, though, even if it seems like your online courses aren’t working as well as you would like them to. There are a lot of ways for you to improve them. 

One of the most critical aspects of online learning is your content: your text doc­u­ments, your videos, your assign­ments and all that good stuff that helps people learn the subject you’re teaching. This piece will focus on cre­ating and struc­turing content that is exciting, engaging, and clear to your learners. We will help you create entirely new e-learning content as well as tweak your existing learning materials. Dive in! 

Give your online learners clear instructions

Do your learners know what they are expected to do? This know­ledge gap can become a legit­imate issue in online learning if instruc­tions are not provided cor­rectly. At worst, it will impair a learner’s pro­gress so much that they will drop out from the whole course, and it’s not even entirely unreas­onable of them if you think about it. Do you remember the last time you were in a situ­ation where you didn’t quite know what you were sup­posed to do and how frus­trating that felt? If you don’t, con­sider yourself extremely lucky, but trust us, it can break your motivation. 

Giving instruc­tions in a physical classroom setting and doing it in an online envir­onment is not the same. There are often more back and forth inter­action when you’re providing instruc­tions face-to-face. In that situ­ation, it’s easier to ask follow-up ques­tions and exper­ience important “aha” moments when the other person is standing right in front of you. Inter­action, in general, feels more natural. In digital learning, teachers and learners don’t neces­sarily meet even once during a course. Even if you organise regular video lec­tures, the par­ti­cipants don’t have the same oppor­tun­ities to go through their study plans. They might not feel encouraged to take the time to discuss their work which will lead them to keep their problems to them­selves and pos­sibly lose motivation. 

As you notice, instructions are crucial in digital learning. You should always provide extensive and clear instructions. They should at least answer these questions: 

  • What does the course cover?
  • What is expected from the learners
  • How should the learners proceed with their lessons? 

Explain everything in great detail. Don’t assume that any­thing is known and leave nothing to chance. If you think your instruc­tions are extensive, go through them one more time. You want to mit­igate any feelings of con­fusion or sense of being lost the best you can. Nat­urally, when your learners under­stand what they should do and how to do it, they are more likely to be con­fident in their abil­ities and feel that they can be suc­cessful. Then take it even a step further. 

Having good instruc­tions is the first step to prevent learners from dropping out of your course. 

When you design your materials (text doc­u­ments, instruc­tional videos etc.), make sure all of them have their descrip­tions and instruc­tions. For example, some­thing like “read the attached article and write down your thoughts and opinions on the material.” can seem like a lot of extra work, but it will pay off in the long run. Finally, don’t forget to tell your learners who to contact and how they have any ques­tions. Should it be by email, chat or phone? Choose whatever method is the easiest for you and your learners, but remember that the quicker they get their problem resolved, the better. 

How does your e-learning content look? Boring or engaging

look at your learning materials as a whole. What do you see? Is it a solid grey wall of text, or is there some col­ourful variety of content sprinkled between the course? Any type of content can be engaging, but learning might get mono­tonous if you don’t mix them at all. Think of it as eating the same food every day; you will even­tually get bored of it no matter how deli­cious it tastes the first time.  The central point here is that you should try to include various content types in your online courses. You can use text doc­u­ments, short videos, assign­ments or VR games. Only the sky’s the limit. If you have only used text doc­u­ments, try including some videos or other media content to engage and excite learners. 

Here’s an example of what an engaging and exciting online course might. 

  • You start with a short video that intro­duces the subject. It focuses on the course’s main ideas, and how they relate to one another, getting your learners inter­ested in the topic and making them eager to learn more. 
  • You start with a short video that intro­duces the subject. It focuses on the course’s main ideas, and how they relate to one another, getting your learners inter­ested in the topic and making them eager to learn more. 
  • You start with a short video that intro­duces the subject. It focuses on the course’s main ideas, and how they relate to one another, getting your learners inter­ested in the topic and making them eager to learn more. 
  • You start with a short video that intro­duces the subject. It focuses on the course’s main ideas, and how they relate to one another, getting your learners inter­ested in the topic and making them eager to learn more. 

This is only one example, and you can use the kind of structure that fits your courses the best. 

To make your e-learning content shine, you should make it inter­active. By ensuring that learners can quickly post com­ments about the content, ask ques­tions, discuss any issues, they might have and share notes. It helps them get more out of your materials and to learn better. Claned, for example, is built this kind of con­textual col­lab­or­ation. Allowing users to markup content for per­sonal and group use, comment on spe­cific ele­ments inside the materials, whether video or pdf. Other learners are also able to respond to those com­ments in context. 

As the final point, you should ask for feedback from your learners to determine which parts of your content are working and which parts aren’t. Without honest com­ments from the people who use your e-learning content, you can only make edu­cated guesses. You can study theory and prac­tices to produce quality materials, but it’s ulti­mately your learners who will know for sure what works and what doesn’t work. It would be a good idea to ask for short feedback for every module your learners complete. 

Learners might not always be able to identify what is wrong with a par­ticular piece of content, but they will point out the materials that aren’t per­forming well.

The insight allows you to take a closer look at those pieces of content and think of ways to improve them. Claned platform ana­lytics, for example, can provide more spe­cific insight into why those materials are failing to perform. You see, digital tech­nology gives us access to so many options for deliv­ering inform­ation. It’s wise to use them. 

Rethink how you do assignments in online learning

What is the goal of studying? What is it that you want to achieve? At least one of the main goals should be to use the know­ledge you have gained and apply it to aca­demic and real-world situ­ations. The way to teach this in your courses is by giving out assign­ments. Assign­ments and pro­jects are a critical step in the learning process. Having learners apply the know­ledge they have gained allows them to connect the inform­ation to their exper­ience and inter­n­alise it. 

As an assignment, you might ask your learners to write an essay or do a present­ation related to the course topic. These are tried and true tech­niques, but, like with other course content, you might want to con­sider adding a nice twist to your assign­ments as well. You can supply a variety of cre­ative chal­lenges. For example, instead of writing a report, you have learners make a video. You can use all forms of inter­active content to motivate learners. Remember that not every type of assignment is for everyone. If it’s pos­sible, you can even let your learners choose for them­selves the medium they find the most inter­esting. Recording a short podcast can fit some learners better, whereas others prefer a more tra­di­tional written report. 

Like with other e-learning content, you would be wise to include teamwork in your assign­ments. Studies have shown that learning together increases motiv­ation and pro­motes better learning results.

Cre­ating an envir­onment that encourages working together makes learners engage more with your content. For example, learners can be divided into groups where they col­lab­orate to com­plete a col­lective assignment, such as a report. Another way to include inter­action is to have learners com­plete their assign­ments indi­vidually then present their work to each other. With time to discuss their work, the group can refine the most exciting ideas and arrive at new discoveries. 

To make col­lab­or­ation in e-learning easy, you should provide des­ig­nated spaces (e.g. an online group space on a learning man­agement system (LMS)) and allocated time for group dis­cus­sions where learners can ask and answer ques­tions from each other. Many people are inclined to put more effort into their work when seen and reviewed by their peers. 

The main takeaways TLDR

Many big and small aspects affect your online courses’ success; none of them should be dis­reg­arded. Overall you can always find ways to improve your courses even more, but if you start with what we have dis­cussed here, you will be on the right track to offer better edu­cation and training. 

Here are the main points to take away from this article to improve your e-learning content: 

  • Provide unam­biguous instruc­tions to mit­igate any feelings of confusion 
  • Add variety to your learning materials: text, videos, audio files, assign­ments, VR games etc. 
  • Request feedback from your learners often 
  • Use assign­ments and add variety to them as well 
  • Include learner col­lab­or­ation in your assignments 
  • Encourage learners to col­lab­orate in general to achieve better learning outcomes 

Use these instruc­tions to start cre­ating killer content and increase the overall success of your online courses. Maybe that could be your next assignment to yourself. 

Here at Claned, we specialise in creating online learning environments for effective and engaging online courses. If you would like to hear more about starting and running great e-learning courses for any purpose, from corporate training to university classes, send us a message through the contact form

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