There’s a saying in the real estate industry that the three most important aspects of a real estate property is “location, location, location”. In e-learning those three aspects would be “content, content, content”.
All the fancy gizmos (augmented reality, gamification, interactive multimedia and the like) won’t help you if your content is not up to the task ― the task being helping your students learn and understand the course’s subject matter, of course.
The generic advice we gave in previous posts still holds: it should be clear and succinct, well structured and divided into the appropriate lessons (or “chapters”), and accompanied with relevant as opposed to decorative examples, illustrations and media.
Beyond that, we cannot tell you in detail about how to write or structure your content because it depends on the particular course you’re offering and what better suits it.
Instead, we’ll have a look at what you should include in your course, taking into account what modern LMS platforms offer. Some of the advice (such as the need to have lessons) are seemingly obvious, but bear with us, as we delve into some issues course creators face, that you might not have thought.
A course is, of course, comprised of lessons.
So you should have some of those ― enough of those, actually, so that they cover the entire course material, and span the whole of your course’s duration.
If you’re basing your course on an existing textbook, then each lesson could correspond to a specific chapter.
That’s just a rule of thumb, though: some chapters (or difficult subjects) should be split into a couple of lessons or more, while others can be combined into a single lesson or even be skipped entirely.
You should consider how many lessons at minimum you expect your students to complete per week, and plan your lessons’ content accordingly (don’t forget to account for holidays and exam periods though).
A lesson, at least in the Efront Pro LMS, contains “Content”, which is a catch-all term for your learning material.
The content could be a text (your course text for a particular chapter/subject), a URL (a page you want your learners to study), etc.
You can import content from Wikipedia, YouTube, Vimeo, etc, or using Scorm and TinCap APIs. You can also upload files such as PDFs, Powerpoints, audio, etc.
Such content can be your main lesson, e.g. a PDF of a short story in a literature course, or supplementary to it.
Importing or linking to such multimedia content can help students learn better and retain that knowledge longer (an example video trumps a dry theoretical explanation), but you should also have a short introductory text with each lesson, explaining to them what is this lesson all about and why you want them to study any linked/attached content.
A lesson can also include tests. These can be some simple questions for the students to answer at the end of each lesson, or a full blown exam.
In the first case, the questions shouldn’t focus on esoteric or advanced details of the lesson, but on the core principles that the student is supposed to remember. They should also not try to prove that the instructor knows much more than the student (of course you do).
The role of those (simple) questions is to help students focus on what’s the gist of the lesson, and assist them in checking whether they understood it or not.
They can also be valuable to the instructor, helping him/her spot problematic lessons that leave students confused, in order to further improve them.
Tests serve as a general refresher on the past several lessons (or the whole year, if they are final exams), and as way to gauge students’ progress.
The best place to add a test is when, after several lessons, you have concluded a particular topic or larger subject.
If you’re doing introductory Physics for example, you could have a test when students have completed the Electricity lessons, the Gravity lessons, the Kinematics lessons, and so on.
Again, this is a rule of thumb. The details are up to the instructor and the specific course offered.
Modern LMS systems such as eFront Pro, offer several types of test questions (multiple choice, free text, true or false, match, etc).
It’s best if you include several of those in your tests, to have some variety and to help learners that are more adept in one of these forms and not in others.
Free text/File upload questions, in particular, which involve originality and personal judgement to answer are particularly good to spot students that are creative and have potential, but are not good with rote learning.
We just about scratched the surface of e-learning content creation, but I hope we gave you a few insights in what it takes to create a successful course.
Stay tuned for more posts, tips, opinions, and e-learning industry rants.
Feel free to watch our short video for the full breakdown:
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