Flexible Business Management


Turning your classroom course into an e-learning experience: Design and development

Apologies everyone for the length of time between posts! We have been very busy at the FBL office developing some exciting new learning resources on communication in the workplace, and bullying & harassment. Time flies when you are having fun, and it seems to have run away from me this time.

I believe when I left you last we had looked at some basic requirements for planning your e-learning program and we were about to discuss some of the issues surrounding the design and development phase.

During the planning phase you will have identified what you would like your e-learning course to look like, the authoring tools you will use, and the platform from which your learners will access your course. It is now time to begin designing your material in detail.

There are a number of factors you will need to consider during the design phase and these will effect whom you decide to assign to particular tasks:

  • The design of the learning experience
  • The accuracy of the content
  • How this will be interpreted for creation in your authoring tool

Here at FBL we have instructional designers, content experts (in Management and in Training and Education) and authoring specialists in our authoring tools of choice (e.g. Articulate Storyline and various audio-visual equipment and editing programs). If our clients require materials for content outside of our expertise, we work with their content experts to ensure the accuracy of content while designing the learning experience and interpreting the information for the relevant authoring tools.

It is important to remember that the online environment is a different learning experience for the student than the classroom. The activities and course structure that were suitable in the classroom may not be suitable online. This is where the design of your learning experience is important. You need to decide how you will apply the basic principles of training and assessment to the online environment, the order in which you will present your content, and how the students will interact with the content through activities and simulations.

The instructional designer, the content expert and the authoring tool specialist will all need to work together to create a storyboard for the learning material. As a basic guide:

  • The instructional designer will provide advice on the introduction of new content, the relevance of activities, the number of activities and where they should be located etc.
  • The content specialist will ensure that the information presented is accurate, that the activities are at a level appropriate for student knowledge and skill, that the simulations and scenarios are an accurate representation etc.
  • The authoring tool specialist will provide information on whether the activities and the content can be developed by the program being used to create the materials, and can suggest alternatives based on their knowledge of the technology.

Depending on the skills of the staff involved, these tasks could be conducted by multiple people or only one person. Independent of the number of people in your project team, it is very important that you consult with stakeholders during the development of you storyboard, and have them review your ideas before moving into the development phase, to avoid wasting precious time and dollars developing a product that does not meet their requirements.

Once everyone is happy with your storyboard, the authoring tool specialist can begin development. This phase will differ for each project depending on the authoring tool being used and the time allocated.

If your organisation does not currently have a particular preference, we recommend that before beginning your project you spend adequate time researching the variety of authoring tools available and choose one that best suits your needs and level of expertise. Often companies decide that it is easier to outsource the development phase to teams who specialize in developing materials using particular authoring tools, even if they have the instructional designers and context experts in-house. This is because it is easier and cheaper than purchasing the hardware, software and training required to bring the equipment and expertise into their organisation for the quality of product they require. It is important to be aware of this before beginning the project so that external experts can assist you throughout.

By now you have probably realized that there can be a lot involved in the development of e-learning materials. Which is why, as you are probably well aware, the decision to turn your classroom resources into e-learning materials, is not something that organisations commit to lightly.

Once the design and development of your product is complete, however, you are on the downhill run! It will then be time to look trialing your materials and monitoring your program’s implementation ongoing.


Next post –

Turning your classroom into an e-learning experience: Implementation and Review