How to develop Online Learning Modules: the basics

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When you get down to developing online learning modules, you are in essence putting together study materials that are all related to a certain topic or subject. An online elearning module forms the building block of any course without which the intended skills will not be imparted. A learning module contains objectives, ways to use the course material, learning materials, study exercises, and course assessments.

Last updated on: Jun 13, 2019 @ 5:48 am

Time needed: 7 days.

What then is the best way to come up with working online learning modules? Follow this development process:

  1. Lay out learning outcomes

    What is it that students who take the course will be able to do at the end of their study? Thinking in this line will help you to conceptualize the course as a measurable commodity. Avoid words such as know or understand since they are vague and do not indicate depth when describing knowledge. Instead, consider the use of identify, recognize, report, translate and classify as concrete outcomes after study. 2-4 such statements should cover all possible outcomes.

    For example: After completing my Helpdesk staff online learning module, I want trainees to allocate support tickets 20% quicker and solve 50% more tasks on call instead of transferring them to Level 2 Support.

    Another example: 3 months after completion of nursing online learning modules, I want my clinic’s nurses to get a least 30% more positive reviews based on patient satisfaction surveys.

  2. Formulate assessments

    The purpose of setting assessments before study commences is to gauge the ability of students to understand and apply knowledge acquired. Low stake assessments that allow students to monitor self-progress should be included. Place such activities anywhere in the course. Depending on your goal, you should either put a cap on a number of possible wrong answers required to fail an assessment or you can let students do as many mistakes as they want, just make sure they receive a clear explanation on each failed item and details on what the right choice is.

  3. Create original learning materials/activities

    Help your students to warm up to a subject by guiding them in reading already published materials. When creating course material, draw information from various sources then summarize in a single article. Students should at all times be led into focused study by highlighting what is important for their course. Here is a guide how to develop elearning content.

    As for ways of presenting data, it is a scientific fact that human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text. So, infographics is your biggest friend! Use it wisely along with videos and interactive exercises.

    You can even go as far as embedding interactive games into a learning modules. Remember those quest PC games which charmed gamers when they hit the market in 90s? Today in year 2019 they still work to motivate participants and can really help educators to choose better means when long or boring tasks must be performed! Try completing The Syphilis Story by NT Department of Health (Australia) to see gamified health education in action.

  4. Give your students study instructions

    Connect the current course to previous and future courses to create an online learning path. It is handy to create Surveys in Survey Monkey and embed them into online learning module for assessment purposes. We usually create a Pre-Course and Post-Course evaluation surveys along with a follow us survey which we send in a couple of months upon course completion. This allows us to monitor how online learning course affected students and whether students retain knowledge they acquired in the long run.