In recent years, many companies have realized that e-learning is becoming an indispensable tool for their operations. No doubt e-learning has a bright future ahead of it. According to Forbes, this market is expected to grow to $325 billion by 2025. The recent pandemic that has affected the world may have an even more positive impact on e-learning figures, as more people around the globe have been forced to learn in this new way.
It is no surprise that e-learning platforms and websites are mushrooming. Of course, not all are meeting the necessary standards. Developing an interactive e-learning solution is a challenge for many businesses. It is an endeavor that requires proper planning, insightful strategy, and an understanding of available technologies. Otherwise, your e-learning solution will not stand out from the crowd, will not add real value to your users, and will create dissatisfied customers.
Based on our experience (at QPSoftware) in developing such platforms, we will outline the critical steps needed to create a successful interactive e-learning solution.
Types of E-Learning Platforms
Depending on the e-course structure and how the students interact with it, it exists three categories of e-learning solutions:
Online Learning Platforms
This refers to courses where the student learns independently. The student can log into the platform where he has access to the course material, but he will have to self-pace his learning. The administrator can track the student's progress and issue a certificate upon course completion. However, other than that, the student is completely independent.
These platforms are designed to establish interaction between the student and the teachers. On these platforms, learners are given an option to choose the class they want and the teacher they prefer. The student benefits from one-on-one lessons with a teacher who sets the pace for the lessons and controls the student's progress. This format calls for functional interaction throughout the course using quizzes, games, and other methods to assess the student's progress.
E-learning Web Conferencing Software
This software is designed for online group learning. A group of students, often including large masses, connect online to follow the lessons and they have the opportunity to interact with one another. These are useful when there is a need to educate large amounts of people at the same time.
1. Plan your E-Learning Strategy
Once you have identified the platform that best suits your needs and, most importantly, your users' needs, it is time to plan your strategy. This is the most critical step in launching your e-learning tool. Although the quality of the design and easy navigation are both essential, at this point in your project, you must primarily focus on obtaining insight into your audience. You must understand their needs and problems and then creating a course that genuinely resonates with them.
Set up your goals
Why does my audience need training? What are the current skills and knowledge of the students? Where do I want to take them with this course?
It takes time and effort to analyze the needs of your audience, but it will pay off. This preliminary analysis will validate whether your audience needs the training and if it will enhance their skills.
The information you collect will become your road map to developing the instructional plan. It will give you the insight you need to set the learning objective. As a result, it will be easier for your audience to have an overview of the learning program, understand the benefits related to it, and decide if this is what they need.
Identify skills gaps
What makes your e-learning platform be above the competition largely depends on the quality of your material. You don't want to provide general information that is a copy of what is already available online. You need to address the gaps in their knowledge and skills.
If you have information that your users are looking for, that none of your competitors provide, you will have the advantage you need to stand out from the crowd. You will be able to help students improve their skill sets, making their lessons truly valuable.
Know your audience
In the same way that you would never feed steak to a newborn baby, nor would you give baby formula to an adult, an e-learning course will be completely useless unless it is digestible to your audience.
When you create an e-learning platform around a subject, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. You must understand the makeup of your audience, their expertise and technical capabilities, the additional skills they need to develop, how they will use them, and so on.
If you don't consider these factors, your lessons may result in being either too complicated or too basic for your audience. In either case, you will lose your student along the way.
2. Choose the right technology
Learning Management Systems (LMS) helps you develop, assign, and track online classes and student outcomes.
There are countless LMS options on the market and choosing the best one may be a daunting task.
Here at QPSoftware, we have found LearnDash to be a valuable option for our projects. This LMS by WPEngine has been used, for instance, to create the e-courses on Motif.org and Techtreck. LearnDash is the most suitable option because it is highly flexible and scalable and guarantees optimal interaction between teachers and students. Moreover, it is compatible with most WP themes. It integrates seamlessly with most of the tools used by many businesses like WooCommerce, BuddyPress, Mailchimp, PayPal, Stripe, Easy Digital Downloads, and many others.
The LMS is not something you can easily change along the way. Thus, it is good to consider some crucial factors that may influence your initial decision.
What you must consider when choosing the right LMS
The LMS must be user-friendly and at the same time account with all the features needed to offer a multidisciplinary e-learning experience in a seamless and user friendly way.
Once again, you must have clearly in mind your learning objective, the makeup of your audience, and the skills and needs of your L&D team. The LMS must thoroughly support your operations and meet the needs of your audience.
For instance, if there is a chance that your audience will access the courses from a portable device, the LMS must be mobile-friendly. Moreover, it must support materials and features that your teacher needs to make the lessons productive and interactive. Otherwise, the LMS itself will hinder the abilities and experience of your staff.
Other important features you may want to consider are tracking options available to assess the students' performance and knowledge acquisition, the possibility to award badges and certificates, e-commerce support, forum integration, and other features that your L&D staff needs to provide excellent lessons.
Scalability must not be overlooked too. Your e-learning platform may grow exponentially in just a few years and the LMS must be able to support the growth with more advanced features. Moreover, it must be capable of handling increased traffic without impairing performances.
3. Deliver Engaging and Interactive Courses
Once the backstage work is all set, it is now time to focus on creating your e-courses.
The way people learn online is quite different than when they sit in a classroom. The attention span is less and looking at a screen can be exhausting after a while. Therefore, you must provide high-quality lessons that are engaging and interactive.
Count on great educators
Credibility and a good reputation are what will make your learning environment valuable and appealing. These are the qualities that must distinguish your instructors. Partnering with experts in the field and reputable teachers will be great for your branding. Moreover, your audience will be inspired by the quality information delivered passionately and enthusiastically.
Plan your content
Planning your content is not restricted to preparing the information for the lesson. It includes having a strategy on how to serve the information to your audience. Once again, an understanding of your students is critical.
In designing the course, think about the background, expertise, and knowledge of your students. These variables will determine, for instance, how long the course should be and what approach you will take with the information.
Make sure the material is affordable to the specific audience and that it will lead them to their final goal.
“With the implementation of Performance driven modules by QPSoftware, Motif acquired clear data on where their students’ performance drops and locate their pain points in order to build a better e-learning experience”
Use the optimal delivery strategy
An essential element of planning your content is how you will engage with the students. When learning online, people may quickly get bored if there is no interaction. They may feel lost or discouraged.
To make your content engaging, you must create the right combination of media like text, video, audio, slides, and infographics. Gamification is another effective way to teach while having fun and it has proved effective for many successful e-learning platforms.
Interaction is vital for the student to feel that they are learning and progressing. Tests, quizzes, or one-on-one interaction with the teachers are useful to offer regular assessments. This will make the students aware of their achievements and progress toward their final goal.
“By designing a game-based ecosystem, QPSoftware achieved the extra motivation that leaded Techtrek STEAM students to complete their courses and increase their user satisfaction”
Engage with your students
Who doesn't like to see their achievements recognized? You need to motivate your student through constant engagement. Giving them, so to speak, a virtual pat on the back. You can do this through a reward system as the student completes tasks. For instance, you can assign them badges or create a point ranking system.
Most importantly, your e-learning platform will be truly appealing if it includes verified certifications that can be used to advance their career or confirm their skills. Such certifications will attract more students and help your business to develop.
“Another key point for TechTreck was the developement of a Community Collaboration platform where students and teachers were able to share their feedback and encouragement for better results”
Let your students be your ambassadors
As the last point in this guide on developing an interactive e-learning solution, we want to mention your marketing strategy.
You must leverage your current users to be your ambassadors. Nothing is more valuable than word of mouth to promote your course. Therefore, allow your users to rate your course and teachers, leave feedback, and add reviews. This is a superb way to understand if your lessons need adjustments and to attract new users to your platform at the same time.
“In order to improve conversion rate, Motif implemented a review system for their courses, by using their student’s opinions on their courses they could gain trust of their web visitors”
Creating a top interactive e-learning solution is a challenging business endeavor. It requires excellent planning skills and a thorough knowledge of your niche. Moreover, besides having something good to share, you must organize the material appealingly and engagingly.
The e-learning market is booming and will offer great business opportunities in the years to come, justifying all your efforts.
Developing an in-house e-learning solution is not easy for many businesses. Further, it may not bring the best results. At QPSoftware, we have extensive knowledge of how to create e-learning software, and we can support you in any step of your business. Tell us about your project today, and one of our experts will contact you in the next 24h.