The creative process behind developing a successful e-learning course

The creative process behind developing a successful e-learning course

By Joe Skillington | E-learning Designer

Developing creative and engaging e-learning is our bread and butter. We’ve been doing it for a while now and we know all too well what the pitfalls and challenges are. Joe Skillington, one of our e-learning designers, shares some of his ‘best practice’ tips to ensure that your e-learning is inspiring…not tiring!

Initial Script

Once a new course idea is in the pipeline the first part of the process is writing a script. We identify the most suitable tutor from our large bank of experts and professional network and invite them to start the script writing process with us. The scripting stage is about focussing on collating everyone’s ideas. The trick is to not leave anything out. This is not the time for fine tuning but to brainstorm all the different ways of conveying the course content.

The length and level of detail included in the course can impact on the duration of the writing process. It can take anything from a couple of days to around a week.

Full read through

When a rough script is in place the whole team - including tutors, designers and course builders - meet for a full read through. This is an integral part of the process; what can sometimes sound perfectly normal on paper doesn’t quite work when spoken out loud. As a lot of our courses have a presenter, it is crucial that the script is delivered naturally and without feeling starchy or dragged out.

The ‘read through’ is the perfect place for cutting out unnecessary waffle and tightening up the script. We believe that pre-production is one of the most, if not the most important part of the creative process. Spending a little more time figuring out and correcting problems at this stage saves a great deal of time further down the line.

Script Sign off 

Once the script has been officially ‘signed off’ it is split into three main categories:

  • video
  • audio
  • visuals

Video 

The majority of our courses have a presenter. We find this helps with course continuity and engagement. The presenter can be studio based (filmed in front of a white background or green screen) or ‘out in the field’. The location very much depends on the tone of the course.

We’ve created a custom-built basement studio, complete with audio booth, where we can film and record content to the highest professional standards. Like all professional studios, we’ve got a teleprompter on which we upload scripts to help the presenter with their lines.

Image of Kinch Robinson studio set
Image of studio booth

Audio 

If we just need to capture some narration to accompany a video or animation, we’ll use our sound-proofed audio booth to record the voiceover. Narration can be a great way to explain something, but we’re conscious that people don’t like to be simply talked at. We always try to keep narration concise and to the point – this is where the benefits of a robust pre-production read through comes to fruition.

Editing 

Editing is where the magic happens! This is the stage when all filmed, recorded and designed assets are cut together, synced up and made ready for output. The adobe creative cloud is our weapon of choice as this has video editing and sound editing software as well as industry standard image editing tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator. When all assets are complete then we move on to building the course!

Image still of more productive
Image of film editing software

Building the course 

This is the stage in the process where everything starts to come together. We build our e-learning courses using Articulate Storyline. Its recognisable user interface, like word and excel, makes it simple to build an interactive course without the need for programming or coding. Playing close attention to the original script, we build the course using the edited assets. As all assets are premade, this part of the process is (normally) hassle free. Depending on the size of the course, building it can take anywhere from 2 days to two weeks.

Review and amend

Once built, the course needs to be reviewed. No matter how much planning and preparation goes into creating a course there will always be slight amendments and tweaks. Certain unforeseen problems at the pre-production stage are now amended and any technical issues such as faulty audios or image problems are corrected. This part of the process is repeated until all errors and issues are resolved. Once happy, we then publish the course and put it into ‘live testing’ stage. We try to get a member of staff that has not been part of the process to do run through the course. A fresh pair of eyes means things that have previously slipped through the net are picked up on.

Publishing 

When the team is happy that nothing else can be changed, the course is published and uploaded to our Learning Management System (LMS). Real users test the course and make sure that everything is working. This is the stage where we also check that scores are recorded and logged properly. When enough users have trialled the course and no errors are found then the course is signed off and we start on the next one – and the entire process starts all over again. Simple….if you know what you’re doing!

Posted by News Desk