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Converting a Text-heavy PDF Document into an Engaging E-learning Curriculum

Do you have stacks of documents in the PDF format, each running into hundreds of pages? Are you looking to convert them into good e-learning materials that can be accessed easily by your people? Well, you can convert each of the PDF documents into an e-learning curriculum, comprising several microlearning modules to train your people effectively. Let us see how.

Transforming a bland, text-heavy PDF document into an online curriculum

You need to follow a three phase process to convert the PDF into a self-paced, technology-enabled learning curriculum.

Phase 1

This phase comprises the following steps.

Step 1 – Analyze the PDF document

You need to analyze the PDF document to determine whether there are any gaps in the content. This is important as these gaps may affect the comprehensiveness of the online training curriculum.

Step 2 – Prepare a detailed structure of the curriculum 

Once the analysis of the PDF document is completed and content gaps (if any) have been filled, it is time to construct a content structure for the e-curriculum. Here’s how you can prepare a content structure.

  1. List the topics that need to be covered in the curriculum. For instance, a curriculum on the Sarbanes Oxley (SoX) Act covers various topics such as auditor independence, corporate responsibility, corporate fraud and accountability, etc.
  2. Once the list of topics is finalized, you need to divide the content into various heads, each addressing a learning objective. For example, you can divide the content dealing with the topic auditor independence into the following heads.
    1. Services outside the scope of auditors’ practice
    2. Pre-approval requirements
    3. Audit partner rotation
    4. Conflicts of interest

The content under each head can be presented as a micro online learning module. It is now time to determine the number of slides in each module and what each slide would contain. For example, the module dealing with pre-approval requirements could contain slides dealing with the following:

  1. Welcome message
  2. Learning objectives
  3. General requirements
  4. Investor disclosure rules
  5. Delegation of the audit committee’s authority

In the same way, divide the content in other topics into micro e-learning modules, each covering a learning objective, and determine the number of slides and content in each slide.

Step 3 – Finalize the global instructional design strategy

You now need to decide the instructional strategy to be used across all the modules in the curriculum. Based on the nature of content of the curriculum, you need to zero-in on the instructional design strategy. For instance, you can use problem-based learning, where scenarios can be presented to learners to help them identify violations of the Act. This is a very important step in the conversion of the PDF into an e-learning curriculum, as the instructional strategy determines the effectiveness of the curriculum.

Step 4 – Select the right authoring tool

You need to choose an authoring tool that supports your instructional strategy. For example, Articulate Storyline is the ideal tool to develop a scenario-based learning module as the tool can be used to develop scenarios rapidly, with minimum effort.

Phase 2

This phase involves the following steps.

Step 1 – Creating a prototype and getting it approved 

You need to develop a fully functional online learning module (prototype), based on the instructional strategy and using the authoring tool finalized in Phase 1, and get it approved by the stakeholder(s). A good prototype demonstrates you have understood the stakeholder’s needs and goes a long way in avoiding re-work, ensuring the PDF is converted into an online training curriculum within the stipulated time frame and budget.

Step 2 – Standardize the elements to be used throughout the curriculum

Once the prototype is approved, you need to finalize the elements that will be used in all modules of the e-learning curriculum. Here is the list of elements to be standardized.

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E-learning Development - Standardizing Online Course Elements [Infographic]

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Step 3 – Create the curriculum design kit

It is now time to develop each of the standardized elements, so that they can be used in the development of the online training curriculum.

Phase 3

In this phase, all the modules of e-learning curriculum are developed, using the development kit created in Phase 2. It’s better to follow an AGILE model to develop the e-curriculum. This model calls for close interaction between the stakeholder, instructional designers, and online course developers.

The instructional designer creates the storyboard of the first module using the design kit and sends it to the developer for producing the module. The developer creates the module, using the selected authoring tool, and the stakeholder reviews the module. While the stakeholder reviews the module, the storyboard of the second module is developed and sent for development. This way, all the modules of the online training curriculum are created rapidly as little time is wasted.

Finally, after all the modules are created, the stakeholder’s feedback on the entire e-curriculum is collected and instructional designers revise the storyboards and developers incorporate the changes in the modules, and a final sign-off is obtained from the stakeholder. This completes the conversion of the PDF document into an e-learning curriculum.

At each phase, you need to communicate effectively with the stakeholder to ensure his requirements are fully met.

To convert a text heavy PDF document into an engaging e-learning curriculum, you need to follow the three phase process.

Phase Activities performed
1 a. Analysis of the PDF document
b. Creation of the e-curriculum’s structure
c. Finalization of the instructional strategy for the entire curriculum
d. Selection of the authoring tool to develop the curriculum
2 e. Development of the prototype
f. Standardization of elements to be used throughout the curriculum
g. Creation of the curriculum development kit
3 h. Design and development of the e-learning curriculum’s modules
i. Review of each module by the stakeholder
j. Implementation of the stakeholder’s feedback
k. Approval of the stakeholder

Hope you liked this post. How do you convert PDF documents into engaging online learning materials? We’d love to know.

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