The best road map you can follow while writing an e-learning module is to go down the instructional design route. Instructional design methodologies are systematic and the results are worth the effort.
Stages involved in writing an e-learning module
Stage 1 - Analysis
The analysis phase is the first stage in the development of an e-learning module. Typically a training needs analysis is conducted to gather data on the goals for the course to achieve, the need for the course, the needs of the learners and the target audience profile. This data is used to formulate the terminal or high-level objectives of the module. The objectives essentially form the desired outcome of the module.
Stage 2 – Design
In this next phase, the design for the e-learning module is created. The data collected in the previous stage is used to develop the macro design of the e–learning module that includes the recommended instructional design solution and the assessment methodology. Post client approval of the high-level design, the micro-design for the module is prepared and the secondary objectives are written.
Stage 3 – Content gap analysis
At this stage, a content gap analysis is done to flag off and plug any missing content that may be required during production of the module. A prototype of the e–learning module is usually prepared at this point to give an idea of the look and feel of the course and its functionalities. A storyboard is prepared for the prototype based on the objectives.
Stage 4 – Production
Once your client approves the macro and micro designs as well as the prototype, the production for the e-learning module begins. Storyboards are developed according to the instructional design approach and the approved micro-design. Typically, each storyboard includes elements like the learning objectives, the ‘teach’ and test items. If the e-learning module contains a scored assessment, the test questions need to be tied to the terminal objectives. Job aids, a Help section and a Glossary are usually scripted once the development of all storyboards is complete.
This process is most effective when it allows you to revisit a particular stage in case you are not satisfied with the results at the end of that stage. This saves both time and effort in the long run as it allows you to fix mistakes before they snowball and have a greater impact on your budgets and timelines. For example, it is easier to make changes in the structure of the course at the design stage rather than trying to go back to the drawing board and make those changes at the time of storyboard development.
The learner is the focus
While all these details are important and cannot be ignored, do not allow your focus to shift away from the learner at any point. The acid test for your e-learning module is to be able to satisfy the learner. A badly developed e-learning module impacts the learner more than anyone else. So step into your learner’s shoes and see if he/she would think your course was worth the seat time and the effort spent. If the answer is in the affirmative, you know that your course is a winner!