In the eLearning field, there are many courseware designers and developers across departments as well as around the world that are developing courseware to be used across multiple environments. Each one of them designs courses in their own style and uses their own standards. It is difficult to maintain a consistent standard. Creating an eLearning course with quality is big challenge for many of us in the eLearning community.
However, there are certain standards that can be used to maintain consistency and quality in the eLearning courses. This, in turn, helps create effective learning and makes the development faster. It will ensure consistent output, even when several people create the eLearning courses. Standards bring order to the world.
According to Workforce.com, 73% of global Fortune 500 companies are using online methods to train their employees. And eLearning.com says that 77% of American firms are already using eLearning.
These statistics clearly state that global organizations are increasingly relying on eLearning to train their geographically dispersed workforce.
We usually think that SCORM/AICC is the only standards to which courses should adhere.But do you think these standards are learner-centric? Do these standards obstruct learning? The idea behind SCORM is interoperability and portability. Interoperability and portability are the requirements if content must interoperate with LMSs.
The eLearning industry has witnessed many standards, which were published in recent years from a variety of bodies like AICC, ASTD, W3C, etc. A standard in simple terms can be defined as an accepted or approved way of doing something, against which others are measured.
While developing a basis for my evaluations, I have derived some factors from the ASTD Standards. These standards help in evaluating the e-learning from the learners’ perspective, ensure a consistent and high quality learning experience and a higher standard of learning.
Standards for eLearning course development are grouped into four principal categories to reflect the various elements of eLearning courseware design.They are:
1. Interface Standards address the relationship between the learner and the course. These standards help the learners to know “where they are now” and “where they have been”. At any given time, the learners should know where they are and be able to navigate to any desired location with the help of clear navigation or the course menu.
2. Compatibility Standards address the relationship between the course, the operating system and related applications.These standards help specify all necessary components of operation without requiring professional or technical assistance and specify the screen resolution and operating system needed to run the software.
3. Production Quality Standards test the quality of the courseware’s text, graphics, grammar, and visual presentation. The text must be legible and clearly defined on the screen. We usually prefer Arial- 14 (Black) font for the text and use colors for emphasizing important text, instructions, hyperlinks etc.
4. Instructional Design Standards examine the relationship between the course purpose, objectives, instructional content, and methods.These standards help provide the purpose, measure the outcomes, identify the target audience, and analyze the scope.
We at Commlab have been using these standards, which focuses on the ability of a course to “teach”, for the last 14 years.These standards contribute to the overall quality improvement of eLearning courses.