How to create engaging eLearning content Caroline Lawless Published on June 3, 2014 eLearning courses come in various shapes and sizes, from pdf documents to video tutorials, so how can you ensure the content you create engages your learners? Here are some tips to help you prepare, create and deliver engaging online courses. Prepare Regardless of whether you’re creating your own content or you’re investing in an instructional designer to do so, you are going to have to outline a plan for your course content. The first step in creating your course is to identify the learning outcomes or goals that you want learners to achieve from completing your course. Identify specific goals rather than general ones. These goals will then form the framework for your course content. Don’t forget to focus on your target audience. What do they need to know or demonstrate on completing the course? Learning through technology should be an immersive, informative and fun experience. If your course does not engage your learners or overloads them with information, those all-important learning goals are not going to be achieved. Structure your content by dividing it into modules and Learning Paths so there is an achievable path for your learner to follow. You need to think about what format to deliver the content as this will sway you to one platform over another. Dedicating time to carefully planning and organizing your course content will make it easier for your learners to work through it. Create You’ve finalized the course structure and identified the content you need so now it’s time to start creating that content. People learn in different ways so it is worth offering your course in a range of formats to appeal to different learning styles and environments. You could offer a detailed pdf guide to accompany a PowerPoint presentation or short video tutorials. If you are using video with audio you may consider including subtitles. It’s important to consider how your learners are going to access the content; through a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. Desktop-based learning calls for more traditional eLearning formats such as PDF, Powerpoint, SCORM etc. Creating content for mLearning, where users access the content via their tablet or mobile phone calls for short, concise content, such as 2 to 3 minute long videos. For the purposes of this post we’re focusing on eLearning content, we’ll be following up with a post on creating content for mLearning in a few weeks time. There are plenty of authoring tools to choose from and we’re currently working on a post on our top 5 authoring tools so keep an eye on the blog over the coming weeks. Keep text content to the point. Cater for people who scan through large sections of text on the screen by highlighting the most important elements so that these stand out. Similarly, with video, break the content into short digestible sections so learners can take a break to process the content and will be less likely to lose interest. Build stories and games into your content to engage learners. Adding a knowledge check in the form of a short quiz at the end of modules incentivizes learners to pay attention and also reinforces learning. The content needs to be visually appealing to hold the learner’s attention. Little details like consistent font size and type are important. There are lots of video and presentation platforms that will allow you to deliver your courses in interesting ways. YouTube and PowerPoint are probably the most well known however Vimeo and Wistia for video content and Prezi, and Brainshark for interactive presentations are just as effective and easy to integrate once they are supported by your LMS. Deliver Before you rush to enroll learners make sure you test the course in different browsers with different user types to identify content related and technical issues. Ask test users for their feedback on the course. Their insight will allow to revise and refine your content. How are you going to know if the learning outcomes have been achieved? Assessment results from questions and quizzes, as well as post-course assignments, will allow you to identify if the content is engaging learners and delivering on the learning goals you set out in the preparation stage. If learners are abandoning your course before successfully completing it progress reports will allow you to identify where you are losing them. Don’t discard this data, analyze it to figure out how you can improve the course in the high drop-out points so you can hold onto these learners. Finally eLearning course content is a moving target. Update your courses regularly by asking your learners to complete a survey or review so you can get their feedback. You can then use this information to improve your courses. If you don’t have the technical skills to produce your own eLearning content then contract an eLearning instructional designer to create it for you. They’ll have the expertise needed to turn your offline training materials into eLearning content.