How to create effective online learning courses

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Facilities, labor and travel expenses make the decision to build a cost-effective infrastructure of online learning an easy one. That's why many distance education departments and corporate executives turn to Web designers to develop online education courses to train their students and employees. However, this decision, many times, results in a waste of time and money, and can be frustrating to organizations simply because Web designers are not trained in the area of creating effective elearning courses; usually their focus is on visually appealing aesthetics.

For successful online course development, you need to work with a course developer that has proficiency in building programs from start to finish, while accomplishing educational objectives in every step of the process. An effective elearning course needs to have the same care and expertise put into the educational aspects as the design elements. Course content must be engaging and presented in the proper sequence in order to maximize a learner's memory retention. Skilled developers build courses that are carefully aligned to students' needs and directly achieve their learning goals, making elearning an essential part of education and training.

When it comes to valuable elearning programs, online course development is more than just making the pages look good. Here is how to create an effective online learning course that will successfully meet your goals:

1)Establish your idea - What is the learning objective of your course? What do you want participants to achieve by completing the elearning course?

2)Refine your ideas - Work with a subject matter expert (SME) to determine what the course needs to do to effectively meet your needs. Decide how much information to include in the course and how detailed it needs to be by making a prioritized list of key points you want emphasized in the course. The SME will insure the accuracy and sufficiency of the information you deliver.

3)Decide if your course needs an administrative function - You may simply need a system where participants can take the course without keeping any formal records. Many times, however, training programs need an administrative tool that manages learners and keeps track of their progress across all types of course activities. In elearning, this element is called a learning management system (LMS) or course management system (CSM). It provides a way to enroll students into courses, handle grades, deliver test or quiz material, offer two-way communication between the instructor and the student, upload study resources and keep records and transcripts of content and student-instructor interaction. These systems are designed to your specific training needs and seamlessly move students through the course process and record their progress appropriately.

4)Work with an instructional designer - The instructional designer will ensure that the information is presented in an interesting and successful manner using the established learning principles. They determine how the knowledge is presented, and how it is reinforced through activities, exercises and quizzes.

5)Course production - At this stage, a production team works with the course designer to determine needed illustrations, animation, audio, video or interactive media. Production specialists design the graphics and create the needed media to integrate into each section. They make sure the course is deliverable through the intended target media (local network, CD or DVD, or Internet). The production team is also responsible for quality control. The team checks to make sure the look and style of the course is consistent throughout and all course components are functioning correctly. If a specific LMS or CMS is targeted, they ensure that all components will function properly in that environment as well.

6)Course Delivery - This is the final stage of online course development. If an LMS or CMS is utilized, the course is installed within the chosen system. The course is now made available to the intended students through the previously selected media.

A good course development company, such as Brainband Technology Services, can assist you in every step of this process. However, steps one and two can be completed in-house to reduce cost and production time. Keep in mind if the course is for your business or department, you may be the subject matter expert. If you are able to go to a course development firm with your ideas already lined out, a large portion of the work is already finished.
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