Welcome to Course Authoring 101! As e-learning continues to grow in popularity, the demand for effective course creation has never been higher. But where do you start? In this blog post, we will cover the basics of course authoring, including the differences between course authoring and ready-made e-learning content reuse, the top challenges of course authoring, and tips to overcome them. We'll also provide a step-by-step guide to creating a course and introduce you to Edtch., the one-stop solution for course authoring and e-learning. If you're new to course authoring or looking to improve your skills, this post has everything you need to know to get started.
What is course authoring? 101 in under 150 words
Course authoring is the process of creating educational material, usually in the form of online courses or e-learning modules, using a variety of multimedia elements such as video, audio, images, and interactive exercises.
It involves developing a comprehensive instructional design that aims to engage and guide learners through the learning process while also assessing their progress and providing feedback.
Effective course authoring is crucial for organizations that want to deliver high-quality, scalable, and engaging learning experiences that meet the needs of their learners.
In the recent years, customization and interactivity have become the prerequisites for course development. In addition, there are even more requirements for course authoring in the business environment, where every work hour counts. So corporate course authoring must embrace up-to-date technologies and best practices in order to effectively educate business learners and help them acquire the skills needed to succeed.
Course authoring vs. ready-made e-learning content reuse
When it comes to creating e-learning courses, there are two main strategies: course authoring and purchasing access to pre-existing e-learning content. Each strategy has its pros and cons that should be considered when deciding which approach to take.
Course authoring: pros & cons
👍 Course authoring allows for a highly tailored learning experience that is specifically designed for the target audience. The course creator has complete control over the content, which can be tailored to the needs of the learners and the learning objectives.
👍 A cost-effective option for organizations that have the in-house resources and expertise to create their own courses.
👎 Can be time-consuming and require a significant investment of human and tech resources.
Ready-made e-learning content reuse: pros & cons
👍 A quicker and more accessible option for organizations lacking the necessary resources or expertise to create content.
👍 Ready-made content is often created by experts in the field, ensuring that the content is accurate and relevant.
👎 Ready-made content is not tailored to the needs of the learners and the learning objectives.
👎 Can be more expensive than course authoring, especially if it needs to be customized to fit the specific needs of the organization or learners.
The ultimate decision between course authoring and ready-made content reuse should be made based on your organisation's unique needs and available resources. However, while both strategies have their own benefits, course authoring offers distinct advantages in terms of customization, engagement, and flexibility.
What about the challenges that come with course authoring? We’ll break them down in a moment.
Top 3 challenges of course authoring & 12 tips to overcome them
By being aware of these challenges and taking steps to address them, course authors can create effective and impactful learning experiences.
Challenge #1. Create engaging content that resonates with learners
When it comes to course authoring, one of the biggest challenges is creating content that captures and maintains the learners' attention. The importance of engagement in course content cannot be overstated, as it is directly tied to the effectiveness of the course. Engaged learners are more likely to absorb and retain the information being taught and are more likely to successfully apply that information in real-world settings.
Tips to create engaging course content:
Understand your audience and their needs
What are their motivations for taking the course? What are their learning styles? What types of content do they respond well to? Using this information, course authors can tailor their content to their learners' specific preferences and patterns.
Incorporate a variety of multimedia elements
Images, videos, and interactive activities help break up the monotony of text-based content and keep learners engaged throughout the course.
Make the content relatable and relevant to the learners
Providing real-world examples and scenarios that learners can relate to can help them see the practical applications of the content being taught and increase their engagement.
Challenge #2. Ensure the accuracy and relevance of the course content
It is essential to ensure that the information presented in the course is up-to-date, accurate, and relevant to the target audience. Outdated or irrelevant content can lead to a lack of interest from learners, resulting in poor course performance and a failure to deliver the information and skills crucial for your business.
Tips to ensure the accuracy and relevance of a course:
Identify learning objectives
Clearly defined learning objectives can help you stay focused and ensure that your course content is aligned with your intended outcomes. When setting objectives, consider what specific knowledge, skills, or abilities learners should be able to demonstrate after completing the course. Consider prioritizing the objectives based on their importance and relevance to your learners.
Consult with subject matter experts
Expert input can be invaluable when developing course content. Consider reaching out to colleagues or contacts in your industry or seeking out thought leaders and influencers online. When consulting with experts, ask open-ended questions and be receptive to different perspectives and opinions.
Use credible sources
When selecting sources for your course content, prioritize those that are reputable, authoritative, and up-to-date. Look for peer-reviewed or otherwise expert-vetted sources. Additionally, be sure to properly cite your sources and give credit where credit is due.
Regularly update the content
To ensure your course content remains relevant and effective, consider implementing a regular review and update process. This may involve setting up a schedule for reviewing and revising your content or creating a feedback loop with learners to identify areas for improvement.
Additionally, stay up-to-date with the latest tech developments and trends in your field to ensure that your course remains cutting-edge and relevant.
Seek feedback from learners
Feedback from learners can help you identify areas for improvement and ensure that your course content meets their needs and expectations. Consider using surveys (often built in course authoring LMS tools), focus groups, or other feedback mechanisms to collect input from your learners.
When reviewing feedback, be sure to approach it with an open mind and a willingness to make changes based on your learning.
Challenge #3. Deliver the course content on time & preferably, in short time
To tackle this, it's helpful to create a detailed project plan, prioritize tasks, and set realistic timelines.
Delivering course content on time can be challenging, particularly when multiple courses are to be created, or other projects competing for attention.
Tips to speed up and streamline course authoring:
Create a detailed project plan
Outline all the tasks that need to be completed, their priority level, and a realistic timeline for each job. Breaking down the course creation process into smaller, manageable tasks makes it easier to focus on each step and complete them within the allotted time.
This step ensures that the most critical tasks are completed first, reducing the risk of delays or missed deadlines.
Set realistic timelines
It may be the most challenging part for many, but it is also essential to avoid overcommitting and under-delivering. A well-planned project that is delivered on time is more likely to be successful and have a positive impact on learners.
The ultimate tip to overcome the challenges related to course authoring
Aim to make bite-sized content for your courses.
When individual lessons or even an entire course arrive in a short, digestible form, it is easier for learners to absorb new information and put it into practice.
Such approach also makes it less overwhelming for a course author: instead of struggling with the fear of a blank page, they can get straight to filling in the first frame with content as it’s less demanding and tiring for the first seat.
As a result, you can:
Streamline the process of course creation;
Launch your course faster;
Make it more engaging for learners;
Ultimately, deliver more courses in the same amount of time or, on the contrary, decide to produce fewer courses because those you’ve created are more effective and contain interchangeable parts you can mix & match like constructor bricks.
How to create a course: Your step-by-step guide to course authoring
Storyboarding is the first and crucial step in the course authoring process, as it allows you to create a comprehensive course map and plan the structure of your course.
One effective way to storyboard is using a visual course builder that lets you plan your e-learning courses with sophisticated branching and various learning activities.
With an integrated storyboarding feature, you can save time and effort by creating a course map within the course builder, which you can later extend with actual learning materials. This helps you visualize the overall flow of your course and ensure that it aligns with your learning objectives.
Storyboarding with a visual tool allows you to identify potential gaps in your course content and make necessary adjustments before proceeding with actual development.
If you’re looking at several LMS options, we recommend you consider whether a platform has ample storyboarding features or not. As for Edtch., we’re proud to have developed one of the best storyboarding tools that our customers often praise.
Consider branching courses for personalized learning
When creating an e-learning course, it is important to consider whether branching will be necessary to provide a personalized experience for each attendee.
Branching allows you to create customized paths for different types of learners based on their needs and preferences, ensuring they receive a personalized and relevant learning experience. It can help increase engagement and motivation, as learners feel the course is tailored to their needs.
We at Edtch. are strong advocates for customizing learning paths. This is why we’ve made branching available to all our customers, regardless of their chosen pricing plan.
If you decide to use branching, it is recommended to plan the different paths that learners can take from the outset of the course development process. This can be done at the storyboarding stage with the use of a visual course builder.
Planning out the branching in advance ensures the course is well-organized and logical and that each path leads to the desired learning outcomes.
Please keep in mind that branching can add complexity to the course development process, so it is important to weigh the benefits against the potential challenges and resources needed to implement it effectively.
Import & convert existing training materials
To save time and resources in course authoring, consider reusing your internal resources and converting them into e-learning modules.
🏁 Jump-start your online training by uploading PowerPoint presentations, PDF documents, and SCORM courseware and wrapping them with tests to create interactive learning experiences.
For Edtch. users, the process is simple: upload your files, add knowledge checks, and your e-learning module is ready.
By reusing your internal training content, you can save time and effort without incurring additional costs.
Create & customize lessons for maximum engagement
Engaging learners is crucial, so it's vital to create lesson content that maximizes their interest and participation.
Maximize your learners' engagement by adding video, audio tracks, images, and web content to your slide deck. Research shows that visually appealing courses with multimedia elements are more effective.
Does your company own a shared content library? Lucky you, as reusing images, videos, and page templates stored in the system helps you save a lot of time and effort.
Use free-access content from Google Images, YouTube search, and Unsplash
This option allows you to optimize the cost of e-learning creation and streamline the process. Instead of assigning tasks to a designer for every illustration you need in your course, a course author can search for a suitable image or video.
Embedded free content search is a feature that makes Edtch. stand out from other LMS platforms. If access to unlimited free multimedia is critical for you, opt for Edtch.
Include various learning activities
Combine multimedia lessons, tests, quizzes, human-graded activities and surveys into your courses to foster active participation of your learners.
Invite reviewers and co-authors to help with drafting and finalizing the course
Collaborative authoring allows for a team approach. It is another way to ensure the highest quality and engagement of a course.
Make learning accessible to the greatest number of people
Utilize multilingual options and cater to learners with auditory, visual, and reading/writing preferences.
By following these steps, you can optimize the cost of e-learning creation while creating a more engaging learning experience and gaining more effective outcomes.
Assessments play a crucial role in evaluating the effectiveness of your training, ensuring knowledge transfer, and, ultimately, meeting your learning objectives. That is why it is critical to think through assessments at the course creation stage.
Here are some of the most engaging and, therefore, effective types of online learner assessments you can incorporate into your course:
Tests and quizzes
Vary question types to test learners' understanding of key concepts. Edtch., for instance, supports six types of questions in assessment tests.
Enhance knowledge checks with expert-graded assessments such as essays and project artefacts.
Enable social learning by adding peer assessments
E-learning courses offer the benefit of social learning at a lower cost than traditional instructor-led training, so make the most of this advantage! Incorporate peer assessments into your course to allow learners to compare their responses against predefined criteria and those of their peers. Collaboration can help the teammates foster a sense of community and facilitate knowledge-sharing.
Launch the course
When you're ready to launch your course, rely on the all-in-one LMS platform like Edtch. to manage the delivery and engagement of your content.
Add the finishing touch: customize your course with branding and design options to make it more engaging and aligned with your organization's brand.
Set up course schedules, track learner progress and monitor course completion rates.
Use built-in communication tools to send course updates and reminders and facilitate discussions and collaboration among learners.
With these features available in Edtch., you can deliver a seamless learning experience that maximizes engagement and knowledge retention.
Improve the course
Creating a course is just the first step to delivering a great e-learning experience. To ensure learners get the most out of your course, it's important to improve and refine your content continually. Here are some tips:
Collect feedback to improve courses
Gather feedback from your learners through after-course surveys or polls to identify improvement areas. Listening to the feedback of your learners will help you determine where the course is succeeding and where it needs work.
Look at the course statistics
Objective data, such as test scores and time spent on specific parts of the course, can help you identify areas that cause confusion or don't engage learners.
Edit the existing course
Once you've identified areas that need improvement, it's time to edit your course. Make the necessary changes to refine the content and ensure your learners have the best possible experience.
Edtch. allows you to easily edit an existing course, whether related to storyboarding, branching or customizing the lesson content.
Remember, creating a great e-learning course is an ongoing process. By consistently collecting feedback, using data, and refining your content, you can create a course that engages and inspires your learners.
Choose the one-stop solution for course authoring and e-learning: Edtch.
At Edtch., we understand the importance of having the right tools to create high-quality courses that engage learners and achieve business objectives. That's why we offer a comprehensive course authoring solution that includes all the features described above and more. Our platform has received high praise from users who appreciate its ease of use, flexibility, and powerful functionality.
If you're looking for a course authoring solution that supports the full-cycle e-learning management process, look no further than Edtch. Request a demo today to learn more about how our platform can help you achieve your goals.