The Rapid Elearning Blog

build better courses

At a recent conference I was on a panel that asked about how to get better at building elearning courses. I reflected on a few things that I did when I first started and some of those things carry forward to today. I discussed this a bit in this post on how to build your elearning skills.

Learning is an Iterative Process

Essentially, we learn something new, apply what we learn, look at the results, and then make adjustments.

Your first project isn’t going to be your best. I look back at some of the stuff I did worked on earlier in my career and am surprised that I wasn’t tarred and feathered by those who had to take the courses.

I recall one where I taught people how to use this new thing called the Internet. Instead of having them open Netscape and doing searches for things that interested them, I spent a bunch of time explaining the interface features, and focused on a lot of unimportant information. What could have been a fun time searching for interesting things became the world’s most boring introduction to the Internet.  How lame was that?

If I were to build that course today, it would be much different.

how to learn

How to Build Better Courses

  • Focus on the learner. We tend to make our courses info-centric and because of this, we focus on how to structure and present content. We should focus on the learner and how they’ll use the content. Then build activities to help them practice doing that.
  • Ask for honest feedback and try to apply what you learn to the next project. This suggestion is a bit challenging because it requires some vulnerability, but it also requires access to an expert who can provide relevant feedback. This is why being connected in the community helps.
  • Keep an idea folder that you can review when starting new projects. I collect ideas from all sorts of sources. When I want some inspiration, I look over the ideas. I will add that it does help to make a note about what you found inspiring at the time you saved it. Often, I’ll review an idea from the folder and can’t recall why I liked it.
  • Set some time aside to practice. I usually find one or two cool multimedia interactions online each week. I try replicate them in Storyline. I don’t worry about how they look. I just focus on wiring it all together to see if I can get the multimedia interaction to work. One of the things I really like about Storyline is that I can quickly prototype my ideas. The other thing I like is that when I do build something from the idea, I can save it as a template and it becomes a reusable interaction.
  • Do one new thing. You’ve collected ideas and tried to prototype them. You’ve chatted with others and solicited feedback. Now it’s time to put it all into action. Take one idea and apply it to a real course. And every time you build a new course, try something new. I know that it’s not always easy to do that in the corporate environment so at a minimum participate in an occasional weekly challenge. At least then you can work on something real and try new things.
  • Keep on learning. Watch tutorials, take informal courses, get a formal degree or read some books. Here are a couple that will come in handy: the newly updated Michael Allen’s Guide to e-LearningHow People Learn by Julie Dirksen (also recently updated), and Jane Bozarth’s Show Your Work. Those are good books that teach about course design, how people learn, and the value of being connected and showing what you do—all good content for those getting started who also want to build their skills.

What are some things you’d share with the person who wants to learn how to build their skills to build better courses? Feel free to share them in the comments section.


Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • Webinar (University of California Irvine): December 13. How to Build a Professional E-Learning Portfolio. Register here.
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Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for elearning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This elearning 101 series and the free e-books will help.



2 responses to “How to Get Better at Building Courses”

October 20th, 2016

these blog is help full for building elearning courses