Developing an eLearning course that is well written, informative and offers high quality design elements is key to an eLearning course turning out to be a success.
But, all the countless hours spent planning, adding visuals, adding fancy graphics, adding voice is worthless if you do not understand your target audience.
Below are questions you need to ask your client and ensure you obtain accurate answers before commencement of eLearning course development.
Why is the target audience enrolling in this course?
Regardless of the audience being internal staff who require to complete a compliance course or an external student wanting to enroll in the course, find out what the purpose is. Are learners meant to fulfill a compliance requirement? Are learners meant to trouble shoot an appliance? It is important to understand what the learning outcome is going to be. In this way, you are able to plan and present the course in an effective way.
What is the educational background previous training?
This is a pertinent question because if you are going to create a course for CEO’s and the course is about advanced methods of financial accounting, they are more than likely to already have knowledge about the basics of financial accounting and as such you may just include a brief recap in the course and focus more on the higher technicalities of the subject. If you find out during your analysis phase that they already have some previous training in this subject, then where is the gap? What more will they get out of this course you are creating for them.
Where will most of the learning take place?
Not many Instructional designers think about this question but to give an example, if you find out that this course is to be done in-house, will the learners be given a separate room to do the course? Will they be doing the course at their desk? You need to ask this questions where audio is present for the course. There is no doubt most workplaces have headsets but it is better to ask.
Or, is the learning only allowed in the workplace and the student cannot take the material home. Then you have to consider the length and duration of the course with your client. Will it matter if the course is 15 minutes long or 45 minutes long? This sounds silly but imagine a group of factory workers have to do a course on Food Allergens. They have to be on the factory floor for most of the time. A short and sharp 15 mins course may be more appropriate for them then a 45 mins course which may be too lengthy and not cover the main points they need to know pertaining to the real life work they are currently performing.
What skills, knowledge is the learner required to acquire at the end of the course?
Let’s take the example of the factory workers again. What skill set or knowledge must they acquire? Do they need to be able to identify the current list of allergens? Should they be able to identify the allergens if they see it on the production line? What happens if a non-compliance occurs? Do they know who they can approach? If you know what is required, you will include all that information in your content. At the end of the day, that factory worker who has completed the course will be confident that they are able to identify allergens and notify someone if a non-compliance as occurred. But, if you do not ask the right questions and make assumptions, then the course development is a failure and the learner will end up doing a course which is irrelevant to their working environment.
There are many other questions to ask but these four questions are the ones to get started with. As you start developing more and more courses, you will have the confidence to ask the right questions to get the best results for your clients by creating engaging and creative content and happy learners who have actually acquired a skill or gathered information which is accurate and relevant to the industry they are in.