22 Best Practices for E-learning

Educators have many options as they work to provide exceptional e-learning environments. But the range of tools and methods can be a little confusing or overwhelming at times.

We can take a load off you and answer your questions, including how AMVONET successfully integrates with Moodle, a popular open source learning management system (LMS).

In the meantime, here’s a brief look at 22 of the leading practices that are worth considering for your company, K-12 school system, college or university.

1. Get the right learning content management system (LCMS).

You’re asking for trouble if you hastily sign up for the wrong LCMS. You will have problems down the road with instructors, content tools, student comprehension and more.

2. Make sure your LCMS works well with Moodle and other LMS products.

Integration is among the most vital factors you should keep in mind.  You want to take advantage of ideal solutions, whether that’s a content authoring tool or Moodle Gradebook.

3. Think through your fonts.

Typography can have a huge impact on e-learning. Use the sensible fonts that aren’t hard to read. Show some restraint with font colors and sizes (don’t get carried away).

4. Consistency is a must.

When it comes to design, consistency is one of the absolutes. Yes, you can introduce something fresh along the way. But overall continuity in design helps students know what to expect and how to work within an e-learning environment.

5. Format the text so it’s easy to read.

You don’t want to display too many words over an exceptionally long column. Break the content into columns that are narrower.

­­­­­­­­­You don’t need to fit all of the content on the same page. Give students the essential information and guide them to where they should go for more details.

6. Know who you’re targeting.

What technical skills are they expected to have already? How old are they? What is the resolution on their computer monitors?

7. Use design to hold someone’s attention.

Page elements should work together rather than discourage anyone who is reading the content. All of the graphics should clearly guide a student to what’s important or where to go next.

8. Use “white space” to your advantage.

The real estate on the page doesn’t need to be consumed by content. You can keep plenty of areas with a white background or other empty area that isn’t necessarily white.

9. Review your navigation and get second and third opinions.

Your navigation can make e-learning a big hit or frustrate anyone who is trying to absorb what you’re teaching. Is the navigation easy and intuitive? Are forward/back buttons easy to find and use? Can readers see text links without a problem?

10. Form a committee.

Hopefully you’re not bearing the full burden of the e-learning technology. Surround yourself with others who can handle their share of responsibility while offering the group keen insights and perspectives.

11. Get sign-offs on project timelines.

You may encounter delays while implementing an e-learning solution. But get everyone to agree on the timeline and the scope. If you get feedback after a deadline or if someone wants to add something new, you can get support from a committee about the impact of any changes (if they’re even permitted).

12. Create a system that allows you to say “no.”

Your e-learning protocol will help you control whether to spend time thinking about new courses that people propose.

13. Encourage participation.

Whether you’re selecting a LCMS or exploring course development guidelines, involve different people at your company or school. They will appreciate the chance to contribute and support e-learning initiatives.
14. Honor the fast aspect rapid development.

Rapid development within an LCMS provides for inherent efficiencies that should be familiar to many people involved in e-learning. When possible, use templates and invest in special treatments only when they are most critical to drive home a lesson.
15. Put thought into file sizes.

You can pack a lot of power into some e-learning presentations (compelling visuals draw in learners and help convey key points). But plan for the graphics as well, reserving space for them in the development phase. Graphics larger than 1MB may need to be resized.

16. Keep up with content authoring tools.

It’s not possible to find out about all of the tools or use all of them at once. But keep tabs on tools through popular blogs, newsletters, magazines and other notable web sites. You will have a deep resource to draw from when it’s time to try something new or to find a fit for a particular course.

17. Don’t hesitate to get 30-day trials.

As you move closer to a possible selection, get the latest version of an authoring tool with a 14- or 30-day trial. As you assess the product, bear in mind that you’re not the only one who needs to be impressed. Anticipate how well the tool may work in a culture that’s often about collaboration.

18. Document common issues with subject matter experts (SMEs).

Everyone can bring a wealth of experience to an e-learning environment, but sometimes SMEs may not understand all of the policies, practices and objectives of an LCMS. When working with SMEs for the first time (or veteran ones for that matter), be as candid as possible about issues you sometimes face. You may avoid some aggravation later by dealing with them at the beginning.

19. Recruit more experts.

You will need some standards for how content is used (and whether it’s even needed). But keep an eye out for internal SMEs you may have overlooked. A new employee, for example, may have prior experience that be tapped. Get his or her wisdom even if someone else needs to be involved to help shape the content.

20. Prepare for synchronous e-learning.

Provide ample time to practice before going live. And when synchronous training is underway, be sure to have another computer operating so you can know what the students are seeing on their end.

21. Make sure students get the most out of e-learning.

Your e-learning products should make it easy for students to track their progress and work through courses at their own pace. Clearly present the objectives for each assignment.

22. Encourage the students.

For all of the technology, e-learning is still about relationships. Your e-learning system could encourage interaction, including multiple options for instructors and students to communicate. Instructors should know the students by name and provide positive feedback along the way.

As you can see, these 22 best practices rely heavily on planning ahead with the right people and tools. Even after everything is in place, you should be open to making some adjustments. After all, the most effective e-learning environments will accommodate changes that benefit from new thinking and evolving technologies.