It is important to have an exact eLearning strategy and guidelines to follow and reach effective results. Teaching is not for everybody. It is a very responsible process and in order to gain your objectives, you should implement a nicely designed strategy and follow the trends in educational technology.
These days the educational industry tends to be shifted into online platforms. A good e-learning design of a website helps to provide better services and meet the learners’ needs. If you are interested in going digital or you have already shifted to the online channels, then you should have already used or felt the need and importance of a good strategy. In the end, they are the learners whom you want to satisfy with your educational content. And to gain this satisfaction, you need to learn how to create and implement an effective strategy. You are not the only person in the market who faces this challenge. There are thousands and even millions of specialists there who have the same issue. Seeing the need in the market, I have decided to make detailed research and list some of the most important tips that will lead to the process of creating an effective strategy. Here we are!
Tip #1 Identify the Points You want to Discuss during the Training
When starting your e-learning strategy, first of all, you should make a list of topics or points that you are going to consider during the overall training process. If you do not identify these points it will be difficult for you to go on and imagine the process of teaching. And if you do not imagine what you are going to present, you will be confused when explaining the topics, and no matter how well you know the topic.
You need to evaluate the need for eLearning. Also, highlight what is the end goal for you. Unless you have your final goal in mind, your strategy is sure to fail. Write down your short-term, as well as long-term goals. Keep in mind that these goals must be specific and measurable. If you work in an institution, your goals should directly impact the organization’s objectives.
At first, start with the absolutely necessary points, and then define the scope. Focus on a few (2 or 3) skills or pieces of key knowledge the learner needs to take away from the training. The goal of online learning may be to impart certain skills or a portion of knowledge to its learners. However, in case of the organizational cooperation, the needs may be different, like reducing training costs by reusing existing content or increasing employee mobility. If you present a course, it needs to balance all the requirements.
Tip #2 Take into Consideration the Needs of Your Target Audience
If you do not clearly understand what are the preferences and requirements in your target market you cannot offer solutions that meet them.
Who are you creating the eLearning material for? How much do you really know about them? If you want your valuable knowledge material help to reach success, you need to know your target audience well. Only after that, your module will be learner-centric and driven.
First of all, find out what your learners already know. It is to say, identify their level of background knowledge as well as learn what they expect to gain from your shared material. Assess their education level, technical know-how, existing knowledge, and job roles. Then, do your best to plan your strategy in a way to fill in the performance gap the participants wish to close.
Once you clearly imagine the performance gap, you will easily understand the type of content you need to include in the learning. Keep in mind that you can expect your training to be successful only once you know what is relevant to your target audience. If you want the learning objectives to be relevant to the learner, then make detailed research, analyze the market before you dive into creating the content. You can gain the learners’ input on the proposed objectives or course outline through informal interviews, surveys, and questionnaires. These days social media channels and online forums provide various options to establish communication with the target audience, know their preferences and ask their opinions as well as concerns related to the industry.
Tip #3 Define the Learning Objectives
What final objectives do you have in your mind when you think about teaching? First and foremost, you should identify this point. Do you just want to have a published online course or you want that course to reach the learners and meet their needs? I guess you go for the second point.
The second question is related to what you prioritize in your online course - CHEAPER PRICE or HIGHER EFFICIENCY?
Today online learners are smart and detailed when choosing any course to level up their skills. Wonder what made them SMART? Of course, previous bad experience with cheap courses. Saving some amount of money prevents them from getting the desired result. So, keep in your mind that if your course is designed to be cheap, it’s something like you put a “DO NOT BUY” label on it. Instead, make efforts on a HIGHER EFFICIENCY. Focus on two points: meet the learners’ demands and desire to get better and motivate the students to believe they can do it.
So why not invest a bit more knowledge and quality instead of reducing the price? In this way, you make the students click the BUY button, knowing they are sure the whole learning experience is worth every penny.
So, identify your real objective and consider it when creating your e-learning strategy. Make sure, it will help you to go in the right direction and think about the best possible solutions to reach these objectives.
Tip #4 Choose Your eLearning Style
Once you have already identified the right style of learning for your target audience, it will become easier for you to better plan the content creation and delivery process. Therefore, you should decide which e-learning style or approach is best for you and your audience?
When you already know the objectives that are to be achieved, you should choose the style and the way you want to reach these goals. For instance, you may rely on engaging online video courses or real-time live training. If you find that blog in the classroom is a good choice to work for, then do it. When choosing the style, take into consideration the preferences of your target market. This style must be favorable for them and make them satisfied.
The next step to consider when creating an effective eLearning strategy is to determine how the target audience will best absorb, process, and comprehend the course information. Here I will offer Neil Fleming’s VARK model. This is one of the easiest ways to determine the learning style of learners that clearly describes information perception by the learners.
The word VARK is an abbreviation that covers several ways of the learning experience. We are going to discuss it below:
- Visual learning: in this learning style the students use charts, graphs, flowchart graphics, diagrams, and maps to visualize the points and make them easy to memorize.
- Auditory learning: this is the style in which the learner gets information by means of listening to lectures, radio, email, group discussions, speaking, using mobile phones, web-chat, and talking things through. So, this is through listening.
- Reading/Writing learning: during this style, reading or writing-dominant students use repetition of words and writing. Basically, this method is a mixture of auditory and visual styles, as it includes both reading and writing. Therefore, the learners who prefer reading and writing ways of learning, remember and organize things in their mind or they take down some notes.
- Kinesthetic learning: the last style of VARK is related to learning through physical activities rather than watching or listening to lectures.
Tip #5 Set Content Requirements
When the students’ preferences and learning style are already determined, you can work on setting effective and objective-oriented content requirements. First, prioritize the information that you need to share through any form of educational content. Do not forget to consider and decide on the knowledge areas you are going to focus on.
Do your best to make the content engaging. Make use of the appropriate formats such as podcast, video, slideshow, or whatever you find proper. In the same way, keep the information easily accessible for all the students (including members with disabilities). Keep the teacher with students interaction as smooth and pleasant as possible.
Tip #6 Meet the Technological Requirements
Well-defined learning styles, as well as content requirements, establish the perfect basis for effective learning technology requirements.
The connection between the learning style, content necessity, and learning technology requirements is a so-called “user story”. It determines all the abilities and functions that should be in place to help learners tightly grasp the content while using their natural learning style.
Generally, most of the technical requirements are about the demands related to Learning Management Systems (LMS). If you are likely to deal with a formal LMS then the following requirements are covered:
- Centralized tracking of the users’ training history that supports the users in mapping out their course more effectively
- Automation of any form of administrative or mechanical tasks that are covered in the eLearning course. Such tasks may be related to the basic requirements of joining the learning process, mechanical work of test chacking, or sending email notifications. Automation tools may help to avoid such tasks and spend time on more valuable responsibilities. Take this into consideration when creating your e-learning strategy.
- eLearning development tools that provide rapid results. In this regard, you may cooperate with eLearning development companies.
A smooth and well-designed learning platform maintenance will significantly help you in creating a more focused eLearning strategy.
If your team holds no instructional design skills, there are a lot of flexible LMS platforms available which are great to simplify the design of online courses.
Tip #7 Choose the Assessment Strategy
Usually, e-learning courses end with tests to assess how well learners understand the material and acquired knowledge. Yet, make sure your assessment strategies line up with what you want to measure. In general, there are 3 major areas to assess:
- conceptual understanding
- ability to apply the knowledge
Some courses require measuring all three areas. Others may only need 1 or 2. Accordingly, there are different techniques to use. For instance, you can offer various multiple choice and matching questions for improving memorization, discussions or open-ended questions for testing conceptual understanding, and hands-on activities to understand whether the learners can apply the learning.
As we have already discussed, quizzes, including various forms of test questions, are very effective in testing the students’ level of acquired knowledge. The greatest thing is that you may avoid the manual checking process. These days the power of test checking automation is a great advantage for any kind of education provider.
Tip #8 How will You Market the Course?
In your e-learning strategy, do not forget to consider the marketing plan. How are you going to inform the students about your new course? Or what strategy you rely upon to convince them to take it? Mention your marketing messaging through various channels your learners are likely to notice, for instance, this may be an email campaign or in-office flyers. If you clearly define your audience portrait, you already know what they expect to learn. Clearly, mention what benefits you have for them, and how the course will help them achieve their dreamed goal. Your marketing strategies should assure the students that this material is worthy of their time and also budget.
In some cases, you may offer the learners a quick and free preview of the offered course. Of course, there will be people who do not like to learn online. The reason is that they are not sure whether they are ready to cope with the technological devices and tools. In case you provide a free demo, they may try it out themselves before making decisions.
At Uteach, you may develop your e-learning platform specifically for your training objectives. Here you will get an opportunity to publish different formats of educational content and attract potential learners with valuable and engaging material.