Basic mistakes at the planning stage in creating custom e-learning can cost you dearly. But these can be avoided by following some simple best practices.
There are 3 crucial things to focus on when you are thinking of successful e-learning. Behaviours, behaviours and, you guessed it, behaviours. If the learning does not change, confirm or assess the behaviours of your audience you need to ask why are you doing it.
Best practices for custom e-learning creation
1. Is bespoke e-learning needed?
Before you start you should check that what you want to do is not available as an off-the-shelf option that can be customised. Learning providers with large library offerings tend to be fixed, with no option to change the content or else the options are very expensive. However, if you do your research you will find there are a number of other learning providers who provide excellent off-the-shelf content that can be easily branded and customised cost-effectively, to create the content that you need.
2. Establish your objectives
By this, we don't mean 'I need a module on Bribery/Anti-Money Laundering/Ethics', or whatever you happen to need. Rather, spend a little longer thinking about what you actually want learners to be able to do once they've completed the course. For example, "I want them to follow the guidance in our policy…", "I want them to be able to apply our rules…", "I want them to know where to find the right advice and resources…", "I want them to take action to comply…".
3. Identify your target audience
For example, who is this course aimed at? What is their job role? What is their level of experience? Are they new recruits, people who've worked here for some time, or a mix? What do they do now? This is vital – after all, you don't want to waste time asking your most experienced employees basic entry-level things.
4. Identify and sift appropriate resources
While it may be tempting to do a 'content dump' and throw everything that's ever been written on the topic internally (yes, and sometimes externally!) at course developers, try to be more… well, objective. If it's not part of your objectives then it's redundant.
5. Consider the 'bigger picture'
Think about where the current module fits into your overall training landscape. For example, is it part of a suite that ideally needs the same 'look and feel'? Or are you hoping for a new look – to make learners take more notice? Is it a refresher module? Is it only aimed at a selected audience?
6. Agree on priorities, goals & scope with stakeholders
It's an obvious point but you'll need to agree on the scope and expectations with key stakeholders and get signoff. The development process is much smoother where clients have already thrashed out and agreed on the priorities and goals. You'd be surprised how often delays can be experienced even after the course is built because of disagreements within the team.
7. Be ambitious
Ensure your learning flexes to meet the needs of each learner, use diagnostic assessments to assess existing behaviours, create follow up games to check the course was effective. In other words, make your learning intelligent.
Remember that both the product and the provider need to be the right fit for your organisation. Only by knowing what's possible, will you make the best decision.