In this day and age of on-the-go learning, NPD practitioners are tasked with developing content that goes beyond the traditional format of lecture and slides. This may seem daunting, but e-learning (or learning that occurs via electronic media) opens up a whole new realm of education. Learners can interact with the content in a way that lectures don't provide. The barrier between educator and learner is taken down.
Below are some tips to remember when creating e-learning, but the first step would be to do some research. E-learning is more than just adding interactivity to some slides, so take some time to educate yourself about creating content and what the best platforms are to build that content within. Some software even has a free trial so you can actually play around with content and see if the platform works for you. You may want something that already has some structure built in so you can just plug in the information or you may choose something that allows you more freedom to create the content as you see fit. Test a few different softwares to see what the is the best fit for you.
One more disclaimer - the tips below are for e-learning, but can be applied to mobile learning (or learning that occurs via mobile devices such as a phone or tablet). However, mobile learning requires some different parameters when creating and launching the content, so make sure you research and understand those before building the course.
- The first step is to know your audience. Who are the learners and what are their educational needs? Are they familiar with the topic already or is this something completely new to them? Will your learners be novices or experts? Also, there is a bit of a learning curve for some when it comes to technology, so keep that in mind when building your course.
- When deciding what content needs to go into the course, make sure you separate the information that your learners need to know from the information that's nice to know . Ask yourself - Is this information critical? Will the learners need to know this information in order to do their job? If they don't have this information, what would be the impact? Omit content that does not help the learners do their job. For example, when teaching someone how to bake a cake, they don't need to know the history of cake baking in order to successfully bake a cake.
- There is a basic course structure for e-learning (which is similar to most learning structures):
- Welcome your learners to the course.
- Include instructions explaining how to navigate the course, what buttons they need to click, etc.
- Add an introduction telling the learners why they are taking the course and how they will benefit by learning the content.
- Outline the course objectives or outcome statement.
- Build your course content. Modules shouldn't be longer than 10 slides (or about 20 minutes). Learners lose attention and concentration after that amount of time. Make sure parts of your content play to different types of learners - auditory as well as visual.
- Summarize the course objectives.
- Offer references and resources that reinforce the material.
- Give final instructions on how to maintain contact hours and exit the course.