Are you in search of an eLearning vendor to design and develop your online learning courses? There are a lot of parameters that can impact the success of your online courses. Careful consideration of what your learners need and what they are expected to do after training plays a major role in designing an eLearning course.
What should you look for in your eLearning vendor?
- Strong instructional design team
- Good understanding of learners and their requirements
- Skill to set learning objectives aligned with business goals
- Ability to choose appropriate interactivities
- Capability to design assessments that match learning objectives
But how would you choose the right eLearning vendor? Here are some points to help you select an eLearning partner with a strong background in instructional design and authoring tool expertise. There are certain areas you need to need to test for their expertise and value.
Qualities to Check for when Selecting an eLearning Vendor
1. Strong Instructional Design Team
An ideal eLearning vendor will have a strong Learning and Development (L&D) team with experienced instructional designers and visual designers who know how to design learner-centric, engaging courses that offer scope for reflection and practice.
A good eLearning vendor will analyze your performance needs and identify knowledge gaps and the desired performance, before starting course design. Their strong background in instructional design and adult learning will help ensure courses enjoy high completion rates, and enable longer retention and application of knowledge/skills to the job. The vendor will also customize courses with your company branding and style guide.
2. Good Understanding of Learners and Their Requirements
Modern learners are choosier and demand personalized training. Hence, you need an eLearning vendor who can analyze your learners on the basis of their current knowledge level, expertise in the subject area, learning environment, job type, existing gaps that needs to be filled, and come up with online learning solutions that are most appropriate to them, rather than offering all learner groups a one-size-fits-all solution.
Based on learner analysis and your training needs, the eLearning vendor decides on the digital formats and channels that will best cater to learner requirements. Scenario-based learning, video-based learning, game-based learning, microlearning are a few of the online learning formats a vendor can choose from.
For example, imagine you want to roll out a product training program for your sales team. From the learner analysis, it’s clear reps are already versed in the product features. However, their understanding on its operation is very minimal. Here you need a training program that would demonstrate to the sales force how to operate the product during client meetings. In this context, an online vendor would ideally go for video-based learning as the solution.
Additionally, since the target group is mostly on the move, the most appropriate channel to disseminate these short video snippets will be their mobile devices. This will give your sales team easy access to demo videos at any point of need.
Conducting a good learner analysis includes asking questions such as:
- What their learning needs are?
- Why are they taking the eLearning course?
- What knowledge/skill do they expect to acquire at the end of the course?
- What is their current knowledge level?
- What is the level of knowledge they must have before attending the online course?
- What is their learning environment?
- How are they going to take the course, is it online or onsite?
- Are they going to take the course through their desktop computers, laptops, or other mobile devices?
An online course design vendor who tries to answer these questions will be able to have a good overview of your learners and will be able to choose the right content, visual elements, and format for your online course.
3. Skill to Set Learning Objectives Aligned with Business Goals
A learning objective is a clearly written statement that specifies what the learner should be able to do after completing a course. Look for an eLearning vendor who can set proper learning objectives aligned with your business goals and training needs. Based on the learning objectives the vendor can then adequately organize available course materials and establish a logical sequence to your online learning course.
You might have handed over a huge collection of course material including the ones used for ILT sessions such as instructor notes, PowerPoint decks, participant guides, and so on. The vendor’s L&D team will now compile all of them and determine what is “need-to-know” and “nice-to-know”. Only content that leads to an improvement in learner performance (“need-to-know”) will be included in course and the “nice-to-know” material shall be offered as additional resources (or as click to reveal activities within the course).
4. Ability to Choose Appropriate Interactivities
Employees learn most effectively when they are involved in a process. Hence, you need an eLearning vendor who can choose appropriate interactivities that provide learners an opportunity to interact with the course (either by doing or thinking), depending on the content and learner preferences.
Click-on-images, hotspots, rollovers, drag and drop, interactive videos are a few popularly used interactivities in eLearning courses. However, today mobile-only learners outnumber desktop learners and almost 57% of them use multiple devices for communication. Hence, while deciding on interactivities, ensure your vendor follows a mobile-first approach by optimizing the interactivities for your users.
Not all eLearning interactivities are mobile-friendly. For example, drag and drop, hotspots are interactivities that are difficult to use on the touchscreen surface of mobile devices. A vendor with expertise in designing mobile learning solutions will design interactivities with mobile users in mind.
5. Capability to Design Assessments that Match the Learning Objectives
An eLearning vendor experienced in online learning course development will ensure that three critical elements of your online course – learning objectives, course content, and assessments – are aligned and work in conjunction right from the design stage. An assessment designed in accordance with your learning objectives and content helps test learners in what they are expected to learn and measure the extent to which your learning objectives are met.
Ideally, assessments are held at three distinct points in an online learning course.
- Diagnostic assessments are held before the commencement of an online course to assess learners’ existing knowledge. This assessment helps both the trainer and the learner determine the current level of knowledge and assign an appropriate learning solution that can fill knowledge gaps.
- Formative assessments are used throughout a training program (mostly after every learning point) to evaluate an employee’s progress. They also offer learners instant feedback to improve their learning. Here, learners can attempt the assessment questions as many times as they want, and scores are not stored.
- Summative assessments are used at the end of an online training program to determine the level of proficiency a learner has acquired after taking a course. Scores of this assessment are stored and used to take decisions on further training and performance-related issues.
Putting It Together
Outsourcing the design and development of your online learning course needs careful planning and thought as it will have a deep impact on your employee performance, and ultimately, the bottom line – your organizational results. Now that you have gone through our pick of the qualities to look for, feel free to add to the list through your comments.