Online course development

A Guide to Interactive Online Course Development

Knowing that you need a training program is one thing, but knowing how to deliver it in a timely manner is another.

That’s partly why organizations come to Talance for custom curriculum: we’re experts in remote training development.

If you’re considering implementing online employee training, you probably want to know what goes into the whole development process.

Keep reading to learn more about online course development.

Related: Analyzing Your First Remote Training Project with the ADDIE model for online learning

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Developing Your Online Course

It’s helpful to know that projects don’t start in the development phase. So if course development seems unclear, you’ll be happy to know that there are a few phases that set you up for success before even getting to development.

In the instructional design world, we use a model called ADDIE, which stands for:

  • Analyze
  • Design
  • Develop
  • Implement
  • Evaluate

It’s a cyclical process that helps training teams build a course that makes sense and meets program goals from the very beginning. Read about the analysis phase here and the design phase here.

Fig. 1: The ADDIE Model

Each training company can define the development stage differently. But generally, this phase is when the instructional design team and development team start to build.

Parts of Course Development

By the end of the development phase, the team should expect to see:

  1. A mockup or prototype in the form of a storyboard(s)
  2. The build using self-guided or other technology
  3. Testing and QA on a testing platform

Let’s look at each one in detail.

Mockup

A key element of course development is creating mockups. The mockup is usually in the form of a storyboard. A storyboard is a kind of prototype that shows what the course will do when it’s done. It’s helpful for anyone on the team to see, but especially clients or other stakeholders who are looking for an impression rather than a final product.

Storyboards are one of the most important parts of producing interactive courses. They’re tools that are like a map for the production team. They help the instructional designers, writers, developers, narrators, graphic designers, and others understand what they should be producing. They usually include:

  • Instructional content
  • Audio elements
  • Imagery
  • Video
  • Other multimedia

They’re an efficient way for everyone to collaborate without putting the time and expense into building a final product. Without them, projects can quickly grow out of scope and exceed budgets and deadlines.

Storyboards can be simple and text-based or they can be graphical with more detail. Graphical versions can look like comic books or slide presentations.

Here’s an example of a text-based storyboard from that NOAA developed.

Storyboard for course development

The Build

The next step in course development after completing the storyboard is to start building. The build usually uses some kind of technology, even if the outcome is a straightforward slide presentation. The storyboard is invaluable in this part of the development process because it lays out exactly each element and where it should go.

The developers or instructional designers in charge of the build will pull together audio, graphics, colors, and the other specified elements to create engaging course content.

Testing

The last step of the course development phase is to test it. Testing, or QA (quality assurance) is usually a multi-step process that involves different parties, including:

  • Automated testing. This is useful if the team is testing a new piece of delivery software like a learning management system (LMS) or website. Automated testing test electronic content without a person there. A good example is making sure all our websites are compatible with screen reader software for people who are blind. Most importantly, we have people with disabilities test our websites.
  • Manual testing. One or more people, including a QA person and the client, review each piece of the course content to find errors. These can be found in text, visuals, functionality, accessibility, etc.

The development phase is a busy and rewarding time for creating courses. With the proper groundwork, the implementation phase goes that much more smoothly.

Are you ready to start developing your next project? Contact Talance for a free consultation.