Creating eLearning content that is relevant and engaging is a challenge many associations face in encouraging members to continue their professional development. For associations that are graduating from webinars to online courses, there are new challenges in developing content for delivery through an LMS for the first time. So what are some tips for best practice for LMS delivery of online learning?
The best approach to creating eLearning content for LMS delivery, is to have a well-defined process that considers what you need to provide as the learning administrator, how you can create positive learning experience for members, and what are the desired outcomes for both administrators and learners. Across all of these, you need to be conscious of what functionality the LMS can provide to support each step of the process.
Define your Objectives
The first step in creating eLearning content is to define what learning objectives and outcomes you wish the learner to have achieved on completion. Michael Towse highlights this in a post for Learning Solutions Magazine: "The most important aspect of e-Learning development (or any training intervention for that matter) is defining the right learning objective. An ineffective learning objective will result in an unsuccessful training module, despite all the subsequent hard work, time, and effort."
Defining the right learning objective for your course may also be influenced by continuing education credit requirements, or a gap in your eLearning offering. As the Learning administrator, you need to ensure that the content you are offering meets the needs of your learners, and helps them to achieve their professional development goals. Your LMS will help you to pinpoint any curriculum gaps with a review of the content catalog, which should enable you to identify the subject and credits attached to each item of eLearning content. A good Association LMS will also allow you to define complex rules for managing multiple types of CE credits, and correlate these to your eLearning content. This will ensure that you have a complete online learning offering, and that you can easily track your members' achievement of continuing education requirements.
Design the Learner Experience
Delivering eLearning content through your LMS gives you the opportunity to create a positive impact on the learner experience. When creating eLearning content for LMS delivery there are several ways to keep your learners engaged, as you can create and deliver several different types of eLearning content.
Michael Towse highlights the importance of selecting the "most appropriate media" which "communicates your message simply but effectively". Whether you choose to add an image, audio, or video to help emphasize or reinforce a point can impact how the learner experiences your content. Even in the design of powerpoint slides, choosing a screen-friendly font, and considering the effectiveness of animations and slide transition effects can impact greatly on how the learner will interact with the content. This is echoed in another article on eLearningIndustry, which highlights the importance of choosing colors, fonts, media and interations carefully to ensure that the learner is engaged but not overwhelmed. An important point in this article also highlights the importance of keeping content relevant and up-to-date to ensure learners can clearly determine the objectives and value of your content.
Your LMS can help you to deliver engaging eLearning content and to positively control the learner experience in a number of ways. Apart from the ability to deliver multiple types of content, a good LMS will enable you to customize the layout of screens and navigation of menus, to ensure your members can find, access, and complete eLearning content easily. Your Association LMS should also enable you to offer blended learning by combining elements of instructor-led training, classroom, seminar or conference-based learning, self-directed online courses, and bundled documents for purchase through your LMS ecommerce engine. By reviewing the content catalog, you will easily be able to recognize content that may need an update based on date of creation, or a change in continuing education credit requirements.
Assess and Support Learning
Most associations are creating eLearning content for members that are spread over a wide geographical area. As learners will most likely be accessing eLearning content on their own time, it is important to ensure that they have the ability to assess their achievement of learning objectives in real time. This is especially important as we see the growth in learners accessing eLearning content on mobiles, which means learning is increasingly completed in a number of short bursts, rather than in one continuous, focused session. Christopher Pappas notes how "important it is to give feedback in eLearning; how it helps our audience learn from their mistakes and succeed in retaining the information we offer them".
Assessments can take many forms in the LMS, such as pre-and post-learning surveys, short quizzes, or detailed examinations Question types can include multiple choice, true and false, list selection and others. Feedback can be provided to learners either after manual correction by an instructor, or in real-time on completion of an assessment by displaying the results of an auto-correction on screen. It is just as important to consider the most appropriate forms of assessment and feedback for your learners, as it is to select the right media when creating eLearning content.
In his article, Pappas highlights several ways to provide constructive feedback in eLearning, which can be easily implemented with a good LMS. Simple things like providing an explanation of why a multiple choice question is right or wrong can immediately reinforce learning, and can be enabled in your LMS when creating eLearning content. Another way to provide feedback highlighted in the article is to provide opportunities for learners to engage in discussions. This can be enabled within your LMS as discussion forums, which can be linked to specific courses, or to groups of learners. Increasingly, learning management systems are also supporting sharing of eLearning content in social media, which can provide additional opportunities to connect with and receive feedback from the learner's peer group. Providing opportunities for real-time assessment and communication with other learners helps your members to both assess their achievements and to feel supported in their learning experience. Delivering eLearning through an Association LMS also provides learning administrators the opportunity to receive feedback from members, which could be through an open discussion forum, or a post-learning survey appended to completed eLearning courses.
To learn more about how you can use an LMS to effectively deliver engaging eLearning that keeps your Association members coming back for more, read our weekly blog posts.