The stages of eLearning content development


The most common question I hear as an eLearning Coordinator is this:

“Can we have this via eLearning?”

It’s my moment. I take my time, pretending I’m thinking it through, and after shaking my head, I reply:

“Yes, just tell me how much time and how many resources we have”.

I can’t think of anything that cannot be developed into some form of eLearning. As long as you have an authoring tool and an SME (Subject Matter Expert) to provide the content of the courseware, you can create your own eLearning course.

It’s as simple as that and this is how it goes:

eLearning Course Design

The SME’s task is very, VERY, important. The material they will provide, the text, the photos, the videos, the questions for the assessment are all essential components of the learning process; hence they need to be up to date and, of course, fully copyrighted.

The Instructional Designer will receive the content from the SME and will go through it in detail. Their first task is to identify the best strategy to present it. Their second task is to produce a sequence which ensures the engagement of the learner in a fun and carefree way.

This sequence will need to take a visual form and be recreated into a storyboard, a rough guide of how the course will look like upon its completion.

Course Development

Very often, especially in small enterprises, the eLearning Project Manager, the Instructional Designer and the eLearning Developer may as well be the same person. If not, the latter will step in the project at this stage and start working on the storyboard.

Alpha stage

The alpha version is the first model of the course the client will get to see and it will include all the material the SME handed in, placed in the order the Instructional Designer suggested.

It is highly recommended that all multimedia resources and any interactivity are inserted in the design at this stage. In other words, make it as complete as possible.

The alpha version will then be reviewed by the client, who will provide their feedback.

Beta stage

It is very important that the customer’s feedback is fully comprehended. Beta stage is nothing else other than the implementation of the amendments and changes they requested. This could mean anything, from a few minor adjustments to bringing back the Instructional Designer to review their strategy.

Whichever the case and no matter what it takes, the beta version needs to be of much higher quality. It is the last model the client will see before the sign off. Any changes and amendments they may propose have to be as minor as possible. This is something that has to be very clear to all parties.

Gold stage/Sign off stage

This is the final stage. The eLearning Developer acts on the feedback from the last review and tests the course on an LMS. As soon as the course is fully functional, it is ready to be signed off.


There is not only one roadmap to eLearning content development. The size of the team, the size of the project, the nature of the courseware and the particular demands of the client are deciding factors that can affect the modus operandi in significant ways.

The final word lies always with the eLearning Project Manager. It is them who liaises with the clients about everything, makes sure that all the resources needed are available and decides on the deadlines, based on the project’s budget.

eLearning content development necessitates a combination of creativity, technical skills, team work and good time management; regardless of how stressful it can be at times, it is always a fun process and most definitely rewarding.

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