Guidelines for Designing Effective E-learning Course

According to E-learning magazine, 2012, about 50% of training hours are being deployed through eLearning, blended, online or virtual medium. From this statistics, we can see how eLearning is being considered to be one of the effective mediums of imparting knowledge! However, bringing this effectiveness to a course is not that easy. A lot of time and effort is required to shape up an engaging and intuitive eLearning course. Do you want to develop such an eLearning course? Let us see how you can do it.

Know about your learners and their requirements

Knowledge about your learners and their requirements for a course can help you shape up an effective eLearning course, which will be valued by your learners. Here, you need to know about their existing knowledge levels and skills, qualification, job roles and responsibilities, areas of interests and even their preferred learning styles so that you can include the required elements and apply the suitable instructional strategy to help learners achieve their learning goals. Place more emphasis on what learners exactly want from the course and how you can fulfill those requirements, considering the background information you have gathered about them. This can help you develop a relevant course for your learners.

Make it interesting and memorable

A good eLearning course is bound to have a positive impact on learners. To achieve this, you need to include effective elements in your course to make it interesting and memorable for them. This can be done by using storytelling to describe a scenario or a case study in the course. Here, use stories that reflect real-life situations as well as allow your learners to recall their prior knowledge – you should remember that the course is intended for adults who like to see how their current learning can add to previous knowledge so that they can perform better in future. You can even discuss with SMEs over real-life examples that can be included in a course so that learners can immediately connect with them.

Make use of visually impressive elements and include interactivities

Gaining the attention of learners and making them engage with a self-paced, online course is a hard task. Here comes the significance of embedding instructionally sound visuals and interactivities in eLearning courses. Effective visual elements like pictures, animations, colors and graphics are not only capable of grabbing the attention of learners, but also capable of presenting a large content in a short and effective manner. Interactivities are also one of the effective elements that can engage your learners in the course.


Interactivities such as simulations can be very useful in allowing learners to watch, try and perform the given steps or tasks associated with complex processes. Depending on the course content, these simulations can be supported by animated characters with text and narration so that a complex operation can be explained in an effective way. For instance, we had once developed such software simulation for one of our clients where we included two characters, with text and narration added to it. Consider the below screenshot.

Software Simulation

In the above simulation, we have shown how a training manager demonstrates and explains the steps of working with software; these steps are then tried and performed by the newly appointed candidate in a company. Such types of interactivities along with visual elements in the course are likely to be accepted by visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners.

Create awareness about eLearning benefits

According to the findings of 2012 State of the Industry Report by ASTD (sponsored by Skillsoft and Eagle's Flight), U.S. organizations spent more than $156.2 billion toward employee learning and development (L&D) activities in the year, 2011. Not only money, but a lot of time and effort is also what gets invested in the effective eLearning development. But all these can go in vain if learners do not take up the course positively in the first step, complete the course and subsequently benefit from it in terms of their enhanced skills and knowledge.

There are chances that learners become reluctant to take up a course or consider it like any other course, irrespective of how nicely you have designed it. Hence, it is very important to see that, like any other product or service, eLearning courses should be also promoted well among learners. It is very important that learners are aware of what they are going to learn from courses and how that can help them perform better in real situations. Well thought-out promotion strategies as well as proper education on the benefits of eLearning can definitely motivate learners to accept the course positively.

Here, one can adopt various means of promotion such as learning portals, write-ups, displaying life-size posters of an Avatar used in the courses, providing goodies to learners who register for the course and wallpaper to inform about course. You can even leverage the expertise of an eLearning expert to promote your eLearning.

Assess how learners like the course

Assessments, formative and summative, are used to know about the limitations and difficulties of learners throughout the course and also to know about the overall achievement of the learning upon the completion of course, respectively. This is just like the unit tests, quarterly exams and then the final exams conducted in schools/colleges to assess the learning. However, as eLearning does not offer the luxury of personal interaction with the instructor-like classroom, these assessments need to be designed in such a way that they do not appear as useless and tiresome exercises for learners.

Assessments should rather encourage learners’ response so that the learning process can be assessed. This can be achieved by including interesting quizzes and games as part of assessments, which also need to be instructionally sound and aligned to the learning objectives. I also like to stress here that the feedback, which is provided during the assessments, should be contribute toward reinforcement of learning rather than just informing about passing/failing of learners in assessment exercises.

Make it simple, allow learners' control over course

You need to think from the learners' point of view. Would you like to go through a course which is too heavy on content, has too many technical jargons, difficult to understand or which goes on its own way and least allow your control over learning? The course you design needs to be simple and allow learners to learn at their own pace. Present the information in a clear and concise manner so that learners can easily understand it without any difficulty. No doubt, effective elements in the form of graphics, diagrams, animations etc., are also needed to be used in an online or eLearning course; they should, however, not confuse learners.

Make sure that:

  • Large content is chunked into digestible modules
  • Text-heavy content is presented in bulleted formats
  • Navigations are simple
  • GUI should allow even learners with minimum basic knowledge of computer to easily access their required content

A great eLearning course is always centered on learners. It needs to be focused on enabling learners to meet their learning goals in a self-paced learning environment where they can easily get disengaged and disinterested. Hence, you need to make things easy, but meaningful and effective for your learners in the course. By taking care of the above-mentioned factors, you can definitely develop an effective eLearning course that can highly benefit your learners in enhancing their performance.

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