It happens to nearly everyone involved in the training business sooner or later. Your training developers pour their heart and soul into building an exquisite online training course. It’s designed for optimal user experience and pedagogical efficiency, following all best practices. But when your amazing course launches, the troubles begin. Perhaps you’re analyzing reports for your client, but the data you’re expecting is not there or trainees are not receiving the expected score or completion status. The good news is that if this hasn’t happened to you yet, it doesn’t have to. It all comes down to testing and validating whether your online training will meet client needs—before, during, and throughout its development. Read on to learn how to validate your e-learning course to ensure that your team avoids building a training product that doesn’t meet client expectations. With a little planning and continuous vetting, you can ensure that every training course you create will resonate with clients.
The Key Is Continuous and Iterative Validation
To create the most compelling and marketable online training experiences possible, you must focus on testing and validating across three dimensions: learning experience (LX), technology and data analysis. Let’s review the importance of each here.
If you’re wondering how to validate your e-learning course, start by focusing on the Learning Experience. LX is crucial to any training program’s success. The best training content in the world won’t make an impact if learners cannot figure out how to navigate or digest the information being presented. Here is how to validate your e-learning course, its LX attributes in particular.
1. Establish Obvious Learning Paths
Learners love pathways—a sense of direction and progress toward training completion. You need to make sure your training courses offer milestones and goalposts. It also helps if people with different experiences or capabilities taking the same course can answer questions to bypass rudimentary information.
2. Double-Check for Dead Ends
Ensure that there are no dead-ends in your training. A minor if/else statement coding glitch or survey malfunction can hamstring a student’s progress. Test and retest your courses to ensure that a survey or quiz answer doesn’t prevent a student from completing a section or course.
3. Use Clear and Common Terminology
Good pedagogy dictates that you should begin with simple language and examples that your audience understands before building their knowledge from there. However, simplicity has benefits beyond e-learning content. It also works for interface design.
Ensure that you are using terms and language throughout your training and interface that are clear and intuitive to learners. Avoid ambiguity and use custom menu naming. Instead of labeling a button, “Main Page,” for example, call it, “Home,” and use a house icon. Standard and simple terms decrease your learners’ overall cognitive load, providing a better LX.
4. Ensure That the Material Is as Positive and Engaging as Possible
You need to create and continually iterate all your learning materials so they are consistently positive and engaging. Boring materials negatively impact the LX. Enthusiastic voice recordings, videos, or interactive course materials make for a far more lively LX.
Technology underpins the learning experience. There are four key questions to ask and continually validate as you develop your course technology.
1. Is the user interface consistent throughout the experience?
Make sure you design a consistent user interface for your user. Just like department and grocery stores have consistent layouts to create patterns of consumption, today’s learners expect a predictable interface.
2. Are the desired navigation controls available throughout the experience?
You want to make sure users can figure out how to do common tasks, find frequently used buttons, and build repeatable habits as they navigate the courses. You can also troubleshoot common user issues. For example, if your user data suggests that students are not finishing modules or assessments, even though they believe that they have, you can investigate the issue and fix it. You may find that your submission button is not prominent enough.
3. Does the training work as expected on the devices/browsers that you are supporting?
Always validate your e-learning course across various devices, from mobile to desktop. Ensure that your content authoring tools export in universally compatible formats (e.g., SCORM, HTML5). Make sure you design your training for the device that most learners will be using. Most modern authoring tools will enable you to preview your work on different devices before you publish to SCORM. It’s also important for compliance that you double-check that all accessibility requirements are met across devices. Accessibility in e-learning means both your content and your LMS should be usable to people of all abilities and disabilities.
4. Does the experience save the data that you need?
Data is king, so you must use a learning management system (LMS) that saves that data and exports reports of all the learner experience and learner interaction data that you need. This information is a vital resource that will enable you to update and enhance your training. It’s best to maintain a list of the data that you want, so your team can continually validate it throughout the development process.
At times, there will be data that you absolutely do not want to collect, due to privacy or legal ramifications. It’s equally important to validate that this data stays confidential.
Data Collection for Future Iteration and Marketing
Although data collection is a fundamental consideration when choosing your technology and training LMS platform, you also need to verify that you are collecting learner data that can help you iterate and market in the future.
There are two types of learner data that you must collect: learning completion and knowledge demonstration.
Your first goal is simply to make sure your training is set up to collect learning progress data, including how well and how quickly students are achieving the objectives.
The second goal is to verify that students can demonstrate and apply what they have learned. This is typically a more nuanced, long-term process. For example, can you test or survey students in the future to see how well they can demonstrate the knowledge or skills that they’ve learned? Perhaps a survey will enable you to determine how most students are applying their training in their everyday jobs.
Both datasets will help you enhance your training offerings and market them to new audiences.
You’re sure to offer a quality, marketable training experience if you assess and validate your training during its development. Once your training program has launched, it is integral that you continue to monitor your courses to maintain a seamless learning experience for your users.
Here at Firmwater, we don’t just sell an LMS for training providers. We partner with our clients, giving them the tools and insights they need to implement the best practices in e-learning course development, growth, and delivery. We care too much about our customers’ businesses to have them wade through forums and chatbots for help.
Ready to use an LMS that’s designed for the way YOU work, with a team dedicated to YOUR needs? Book a no-obligation consultation directly with our team today!