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A Beginner’s Guide to Planning the Design and Development of an eModule

President Of TrainSmart, Inc.

Distance learning is not a new phenomenon — the first modern distance learning class took place in the 1840s in Britain when Isaac Pittman taught shorthand via a correspondence class. However, its popularity has exploded in recent years and continues to grow.

Elearning is now a $150 billion dollar industry that is expected to reach over $350 billion by the end of 2023. Corporations now say it is their most preferred method of training and educational institutions report that by 2023 over 75% of all their classes will be eLearning based.

Given the trend, it’s no surprise that instructional designers want to add eLearning as one of the modalities they can provide their clients.

So, if you are a beginner to eLearning what do you need to know about planning the design and development of an eLearning module in 2023?

The core instructional design process remains the same. Whether you follow ADDIE, SAM, or Rapid Prototyping, you will still rely on a proven instructional design model to provide a framework to design and develop the module.

That means confirming with the client what success looks like and gathering relevant content — PowerPoint decks, articles, specification documents, web links — as well as understanding the audience and processes and procedures that can help you succeed.

You will need to confirm the goals and learning outcomes and then conceptualize the desired deliverables: elearning module, job aid, webinar, etc.

Where eLearning design starts to differ is in leveraging technology. With most modules today, you’ll need to incorporate video, audio, animation, simulations, and interactive elements.

You’ll likely need to create a storyboard, which is a document indicating the visual, text, and audio components of each screen. Storyboarding can be daunting, so collaborating with an experienced eLearning designer is highly recommended, especially at first.

Once the storyboard is approved, it’s time to build the module in your chosen authoring tool. Popular options today include Articulate 360, Adobe Captivate, Lectora, Elucidat, and Gomo. The tool you select depends on your budget, expertise, and module requirements.

Your client may ask to review an Alpha version, but more often you’ll go right to a Beta. The Beta should represent 50-75% of the final product and allow the client to provide feedback before the module is fully built out.

After the client approves the Beta, the development can be completed. You’ll want to wrap up any supportive materials as well, like job aids, guides, podcasts, or promotional emails.

It’s also important to plan for implementation, including training facilitators and learners on how to access and navigate the eLearning. You may need to assist with integrating it into an LMS.

Some other eLearning design trends to keep in mind in 2023:

  • Mobile-first – Modules need to be responsive and optimized for tablets and smartphones.
  • Microlearning – Short 3-5 minute modules focused on a single skill.
  • Gamification – Adding game elements like points, levels, and challenges.
  • VR/AR – Immersive learning experiences through virtual or augmented reality. Still emerging but growing.
  • AI – Leveraging AI for adaptive learning and virtual assistants/coaches.

The eLearning design landscape will continue evolving rapidly. Staying up-to-date on trends and new technologies will ensure your modules provide the best possible learner experience. But always keep instructional design best practices at the core.