How to support authors that have no experience?


Corporations are moving to ‘sustainable e-Learning development’. They are looking for new, more agile ways of creating e-Learning to meet the on-demand requirements from the business side. User-generated content is a possible solution. But how can you ensure that these subject matter experts will create decent content?

Sustainable e-Learning development

I had a couple of conversations with people who are working in large corporations and the term ‘sustainable e-Learning development’ popped up several times. What it comes down to, is that the old way of creating e-Learning (with instructional designers and through the ADDIE process) is way too slow. It needs to become much faster to meet the on-demand requirements from the business side. Therefore corporations are now looking for new ways to solve this problem. They need to create more e-Learning often with smaller budgets and in less time.

User-generated learning

One of the options these corporations are exploring is user-generated learning. By giving simple tools (like Easygenerator) to their Subject Matter Experts, they can have them create courses, quizzes and knowledge documents. They can do it in the same time or even faster than the time they would need when they assist as an expert in ‘old school’ e-Learning development projects.

Instructional design and quality?

It is clear that your Subject Matter Experts are no instructional designers. Experience learns that most subject matter experts start with a Powerpoint mindset. They will create very content heavy courses that are not the most effective ones.

We built Easygenerator for authors who do not have an e-Learning background, and we know we need to assist our users in creating effective. With proper support, the expert can create publications that may not be as good as a course created by a team of instructional designers. However, most times,  it will be good enough, faster and cheaper. At Easygenerator we are in the process of building in didactical support on different levels. I will give some examples.

Didactical structure

We have defined a didactical process that will help authors to create a better (and smaller) course. It contains three steps:

  1. Define a goal
  2. Come up with the questions to assess this goal
  3. Add the content that will help answer the author these questions.

If content is not related to any questions, it should not be in the course. This simple approach will reduce the size of the course and make it much better structured and more effective. Moreover, there is no point in creating content that does not have a purpose or a goal. If you cannot define a goal, you should not create any content.

Tips, tricks, and hints while creating content

When an author is writing, we can follow his actions and based on them give advice, tips, and tricks. For example:

  1. When an author does not define a learning objective; we can alert him to that and explain why it is important and help him in making one.
  2. When the author makes a very content-heavy course or creates long pages, we can explain why that is a problem and suggest other ways.
  3. When the author creates a question without negative feedback, we can warn him and explain why it is important and how he can provide proper feedback.

The course analyzer

When an author is finished and ready to share his course; we will analyze it for him. We create a report with findings:

  1. Green: well-done nothing to change.
  2. Orange, point where you can improve your course on, with tips on how to do
  3. Critical mistakes that you should fix, and of course, we will tell you how to do that.

Just e-Learning?

The other thing is that you should ask yourself if e-Learning is the proper solution. Creating proper e-learning is hard, and it might also not be the most effective way to solve your problem. Content curation, blogs, other social learning activities, better software, best practices, how to’s are all easier to create. There is a whole range of content types that you can consider instead of a course, and they can even be more effective as well. In my experience, instructional designers will turn to e-Learning to soon, without considering all the other options.

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