Best Practices for Custom Elearning Content Development

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Editor’s Note: This blog post has been updated in February 2022.

Why Choose Custom Elearning Content Development?

In our previous blog post, we discussed 7 Great Reasons Why Custom eLearning Development is the Right Choice. A case was made for custom eLearning content development as opposed to off-the-shelf content. Perhaps the most important aspect of this advantage is that custom eLearning development of content necessitates that we develop a keen understanding of the business for which it is built. The success of custom content is actively dependent on a thorough analysis of business needs and the right application of training modalities. Further, modern training is heavily based on technology for delivery. Microlearning, gamification, and simulations can help harness several fundamental learning principles that can lead to a better learning experience. Delivering an effective learning experience is critical to enhancing training ROI, for it directly contributes to superior learning outcomes.

This blog post explores the best practices for custom eLearning content development that can improve L&D success at organizations. The best practices or key aspects to bear in mind are:

  1. Translate organizational objectives into training goals
  2. Enable assessment for content creation and development
  3. Create effective, engaging content
  4. Keep content and learning interactive
  5. Foster repetition for knowledge retention
  6. Invest in creating a superior user experience

In the next section, let us look at each of these areas in greater detail.

A. Translate Organizational Objectives into Training Goals

A mismatch between the objectives of an organization and training goals is bad for both the organization and the learner. Alignment in corporate learning is key to L&D success.
Establishing clear learning objectives that will also double up in measuring training impact, will propel the workforce towards achieving organizational goals. Additionally, when learning is structured and focused on the main collective objectives, the entire process of L&D is cohesive and bound to fetch superior results.

The training A.I.D. system is a good first step towards custom elearning development and content creation:

  1. Analyze the business needs
  2. Identify the shortfalls and problem areas
  3. Define the training objectives
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This infographic further illustrates the alignment of learning objectives with training goals, learner needs and assessments.

Best Practices for Custom Elearning Content Development
Source: Presenting E-Learning and Design Concepts by S.A Sannwald (2013)

B. Enable Assessment for Custom Content Creation and Development

The most effective measure of training success is by determining the extent to which every learner met their learning objectives. To assess learning, it is important to have a baseline or pre-assessment of what workers know before instruction, as well as an indication of what they have accumulated after instruction. A pre-assessment and post-assessment strategy will help determine the extent to which workers met the learning objectives.

  • Use well-defined learning objectives and devise a strategy to measure (and record) each learner’s performance, before and after instruction.
  • Results from the assessments should be used to make sound comparisons between pre-instruction and post-instruction performance of employees
  • Use the results for the creation of effective learning modules that address the gaps identified.

C. Effective Content is Engaging Content

Whether tasked with sales enablement training, soft skills training, or technical training, ensure that you provide learners with an engaging, stimulating, and effective learning experience. This ensures that learners are encouraged to learn more and inculcates a culture of learning or continuous learning.
In a typical corporate training session, employees watch training videos passively, listening to the instructor describing tasks and procedures in one dimension. This mode of training is taxing, ineffective, and has no tangible benefits or productive results. Training should not be boring. Technical training can be fun, engaging, and lead to exciting experiences. These three characteristics can lead to training that yields results and leave the trainees wanting to learn more and thereby improve their skills.

Learning engagement is the precursor to effective training. Here’s how technical eLearning custom content can be engaging to learners:

  1. Use scenario-based learning
  2. Keep training curriculum relevant and role-based
  3. Incorporate visual mediums such as 3D graphics and simulations
  4. Deploy emotional engagement – use a narrative that puts the learner front and center
  5. Add interactivity tools such as gamification for reinforcement
  6. Use microlearning to deliver critical concepts

D. Interactive Content Begets Learning Success

It is important to keep the workforce engaged in the pursuit of learning. This is especially important in the context of eLearning, as opposed to in-person Instructor-led training. Here are some of the time-tested methods of improving engagement with eLearning:

  • Learning by Doing: There has been scientific evidence that shows learners who took a hands-on approach had activation in sensory and motor-related parts of the brain when recalling key concepts. This is directly associated with enhanced on-the-job performance.
  • Build Branched Scenarios: One direct approach to training through branched scenarios is to build on micro assessments. When a learner answers a question incorrectly, they can be redirected to a module that explains the concept. This also provides an opportunity for interactive training because module difficulty is determined by the competency of a learner. If a learner is not competent in a fundamental concept, it is better to provide an opportunity for focused training.
  • Facilitate Open Discussion: Integrating video conferencing software that features chat and a polling function can facilitate interaction between learners. This makes learner engagement multidimensional. Enable breakout sessions with more private chat rooms for learners where they can discuss a module and its implications in daily work. A beneficial tool to enhance performance and productivity.
  • Personalize Learning Pathways: There is nothing more frustrating for learners than to endure content that they feel is irrelevant to their role. Ensure learners are taking courses that have real-life advantages. Make it evident how a course module can help perform their job more effectively or quickly by highlighting learning outcomes. Both assessments and branched scenarios provide the data for encouraging learners through personalized learning.
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  • Harness Gamified Learning: Gamification of eLearning brings together many important elements of good training content development. Learning becomes exciting and interactive, feedback is often instantaneous, boosting motivation and engagement, which in turn encourages the workforce to continue learning and build on their knowledge

E. Repetition is the Key to Knowledge Retention

“With any considerable number of repetitions, a suitable distribution of them over a space of time is decidedly more advantageous than the massing of them at a single time.” — Hermann Ebbinghaus

Knowledge retention is one of the biggest challenges in the world of L&D. Spaced repetition is a useful, evidence-based technique to improve learning retention. Repetitive training helps to form long-term memory. Training that includes long intervals between sessions is termed spaced training or spaced learning. Since the seminal work of Ebbinghaus, spaced training is superior to training that includes shorter intervals in the aspect of memory and retention.

Best Practices for Custom Elearning Content Development

Beat the Forgetting Curve: Testing + Spacing = Spaced Retrieval Practice

Studies have consistently shown that we can only remember five to seven new pieces of information at a time. This makes it near impossible for most human beings to retain a lot of information within a short time. Combine this principle with periodic assessments to understand where learners are lagging. Understanding training needs can help to better define learning objectives or as a barometer of content efficacy.

F. Focus on User Experience

In the case of custom eLearning development, the focus is on presenting the training content and engaging the learner in learning activities. However, visually appealing, engaging content bears no effect unless it is combined with a great User Experience. This bears especially true in the digital age where learning takes place outside of the classroom.
A great User Experience can elevate an eLearning program. These are vital metrics that focus on how users consume and engage with learning content. Companies today are increasingly relying on analytics to understand how content performs and its direction towards the intended goal. Sound User Experience also ensures that content conveys and accomplishes L&D objectives. Here are some of the aspects to bear in mind while working towards enhancing UX:

  • Make navigation simple and easy, lead users to where you want them
  • Highlight interactive elements to guide users on the need and scope of interaction
  • Consistency in design reduces the learning curve
  • A learner-centric design emphasizes the importance of audience perception
  • A minimalist approach to design reduces chaos and does not overwhelm the learner
  • Mobile-first design is best when on-the-go learning is the norm
  • Deploy true-blue mobile-first design rather than a mobile-compatible design for enhanced user experiences.
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Do read this article that features a case study of an organization that prioritized user experience for their learners and discover how it led to success in their mission.

Following the best practices listed above will ensure that Learning and Development programs hit the target each time.
Discover the many merits of deploying custom elearning development. Write to info@originlearning.com to know more and to view our award-winning learning solutions.


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