An instructionally sound, graphically rich and appealing eLearning course may sometimes look foolish, if you fail to test it properly before sending it to your stakeholders. In this blog, I’m going to discuss how to test an eLearning course to eliminate some minor mistakes that might creep in without your notice.
1. Incomplete navigational page
When you are seriously checking the course for accuracy of the content, graphics, and animations, you tend to miss the navigational page which is a standard for all the courses that you do. However, some courses have a few specific elements which other courses don’t, such as glossary, tips, resources, etc.
Make a note of all the elements in the GUI and ensure that each element is explained in the navigational page.
2. Double spaces in the content
Before handing over the storyboard to developers, an instructional designer must always check for double spaces in the content. This might seem to be a very trivial issue. But, if you fail to do so, it consumes much time to remove the double spaces after course development. Remember, a stitch in time saves nine?
3. Improper functionality of interactive screens
It is a best practice that all interactive screens have an ‘Alert’ pop-up (not ‘Restriction’ pop-up). When the learner clicks ‘Next’ button without clicking the interactive elements, this ‘Alert’ pop-up will ask the learner if he wants to complete the interactivity or wants to proceed to the next screen.
Testing an interactive screen is pretty simple, provided you follow some tricks. If it is a tabs screen, initially test by directly clicking the ‘Next’ button, if the ‘Alert’ pop-up appears, it’s good! Now, click the last tab (click in reverse order) and check if the ‘Next’ button will show an ‘Alert’ pop-up or allow you to proceed without completing the interactivity. Thorough checking of the interactive screens is done by clicking the various elements in a random order and not in a sequence.
4. Inconsistent menu behavior
For courses with more than 10 slides, we may opt for an expanding and contracting menu. Here, only the lesson titles will be visible and when the user enters a particular lesson, its topics will expand and when the user completes the lesson, its topics will contract. This way, we can make the menu look clean without a lengthy list of topics and scroll bar.
Everyone checks if the lessons are expanding, but they usually fail to observe if the lessons are later contracting. By the end, when you reach the summary or the final quiz, all the above lessons must have contracted with only lesson titles visible.
5. Loading issues of videos in the online version
We check if the videos are working fine in the course – you are able to play, pause, replay, and close the videos. But, we fail to check the same in the online version. The videos may work well in our local systems, but they create many loading issues when they are accessed remotely. Hence we need to check them online and resolve issues, if any.
6. Wrong hyperlinks
In some courses, we give hyperlinks to words instead of giving a glossary. Hence, the course ends up having around 30-50 hyperlinks which need to be checked for accuracy. Some links may not open and some may show a totally different description (wrong link). This may be the case even with PDFs. Therefore, we must check each hyperlink thoroughly before delivering the eLearning course.
7. Wrong script
We concentrate only on the on-screen text and forget about the script. Most issues occur when the developer is asked to add a new screen to the course at the last moment, and he does so by duplicating an existing screen, but forgets to correct the audio script of that screen. After you complete checking the on-screen text of all screens, it’s advisable to check the script of entire course at a time without getting deviated with any other element.
8. Missing instructions
After looking at the tabs and slideshows in our courses, we go ahead and click them without checking if there are any instructions available for the learner. Sometimes, the developers forget to place the instruction or on-click the instruction gets hidden under a layer. Such instances must be checked for.
9. Missing disclaimers
There are some graphs or images that we pick from the Internet. We are required to provide a disclaimer for the same. We tend to postpone such things during the storyboard creation, or we forget to make a point to include them in the course. These may end up in copyright issues or fines to the organization. Ensure that you provide the disclaimer without fail under each such image and follow consistency in the way you present it.
10. Exit button doesn’t work
Finally, when you are done checking the entire course, you usually close the browser instead of clicking the close button in the GUI. But the learner is expected to close the course using the button in the GUI, and sometimes it doesn’t work. Hence, check whether the ‘Close’ or ‘Exit’ button in the GUI closes the course as per the requirements.
These were a few issues that I have noticed in my experience. Keep a clear track of them and prepare a checklist of what issues you find personally in the elearning courses you develop, so that you can resolve them before they get noticed by your stakeholders.