Remember taking tests back in elementary school when your teacher told you to always check your answers before turning it in? Same for an e-learning course. Before you deliver a course to learners, you want to look over your course to make sure it’s the very best it can be.
But when you’re reviewing your course, what should you look out for? Every e-learning project is different, so no one checklist will work for everyone; however, here are some of the main things you’ll want to watch out for in your review.
Review the Course Content
No surprise here. The content is the most important part of your course, so you want to make sure you’re hitting the mark. If you’re not a subject matter expert, you should find one to help you with this part. Here are some questions to ask as you look through your course:
- Are the learning objectives measurable?
- Does all the content support the learning objectives?
- Is there any content that could be taken out?
- Is there any content missing?
- Have all the facts been checked and referenced appropriately?
- Does the course follow a logical order?
- Do the images accurately represent the course material?
- Do the examples and/or scenarios accurately portray the real-life context?
- Will the learners find the characters relatable?
- Does the quiz focus on the course objectives?
- Are the quiz questions clearly stated?
- Are all the quiz options believable (even the wrong answers)?
- Do you clearly state what learners need to do to pass the course?
Here are some additional resources to help you fine-tune your content:
- How to Write Good E-Learning Objectives for Your Online Course
- The Dos and Don’ts of Separating Need-to-Know from Nice-to-Know
- What to Do When Your Course Has Too Much Content
- How to Create a Successful E-Learning Knowledge Check
Copyedit the Text
If your course is like most, text is a key part of the learning experience. Grammar and spelling errors are not only distracting, they actually skew your key messages. Here are some things to keep in mind to make sure you’re getting your point across:
- Are there any grammatical or spelling errors?
- Are you using punctuation and capitalization appropriately?
- Are there any run-on sentences that you could split up into shorter, more concise sentences?
- Are you using the active voice?
- Are you using the same voice throughout (for example, “I” or “you”?)
- Can you replace any adverbs (for example, running rapidly) with more precise verbs (for example, sprinting)?
- Are there any superlatives like "high-quality" or "excellence" that you could take out?
- Is there any jargon you should take out or explain?
- Is the voice-over script written in a conversational tone?
- Does the voice-over script provide notes to the voice talent on pronunciation?
If writing isn’t your strong suit, check out these articles for more tips:
- Top Writing Tips for E-Learning
- 5 Tips to Improve Your Technical Writing Skills
- More Than a Dozen Tips for Writing Awesome Audio Narration Scripts
Listen Closely to the Audio
If your course has any voice-over audio, make sure to listen to it with these questions in mind:
- Is the audio used meaningfully? Or is the narrator just reading the on-screen text to learners?
- Does the voice-over follow the script word for word? If not, do any of the slight changes make a difference? If not, edit the script to match the audio. If there are changes that affect the meaning, ask the person to re-record that section.
- Are there any distracting background noises that need to be taken out?
- Is the audio volume at a good level (not too loud, nor too soft)?
- Is the volume and quality consistent throughout the course?
- Does the tone and inflection sound natural?
Never worked with audio before? This article will help you get started: Audio Basics for Online Course Design.
Assess the Design
While people say not to judge a book by its cover, the reality is that we all do it. The course design is the first thing your learners will notice. If you want them to pay attention, it’s important their first impression be a good one. Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure you’re on the right track:
- Does the design respect the brand guidelines (if applicable)?
- Does the design complement the subject matter?
- Is the design cohesive throughout the course?
- Are the objects aligned as they should be?
- Are all the images of similar style and quality?
- Are images and illustrations meaningful? Or are they merely decorative?
- Are fonts used consistently throughout (type and size)?
- Are all screenshots free of personal information?
- Do all buttons and hyperlinks look and behave the same (for example, if one button has a hover state, do they all?) so learners understand they’re clickable?
If your design skills need a little work, check out these helpful resources:
- Visual Design How-Tos for E-Learning Developers
- User Interface Design: 3 Things E-Learning Designers Need to Know
Test the Functionality
Building a course from scratch using a tool like Storyline that allows you to personalize everything (the player, menu, navigation, quiz options, etc.) lets you create your course exactly how you imagine it. But with all this freedom comes responsibility: it’s your job to make sure everything is working the way you intended. Here are some items to add to your review checklist:
Buttons and Hyperlinks
If you’ve personalized the navigation of your course in any way (by adding buttons, changing the branching options, etc), check and make sure everything’s working as expected. Here are the steps I recommend going through:
- Make sure there’s no Previous button on the first slide.
- Go through the course from start to finish, click on all the Next buttons.
- Make sure there’s no Next button on the last slide.
- Go backward through the course, clicking on all the Previous buttons.
- Now go through the course again, starting from the beginning. Click on any other buttons (that open a layer, for example) or hyperlinks and make sure they’re working as expected.
- Can you access all the sections of your course from the menu?
- Are all the titles correct?
- Is everything in the right order?
- Is there a seekbar on all slides with audio or video?
- Does the seekbar end at the end of the audio or video? Or does it extend far beyond it?
- If your course has audio, did you include an audio button so learners can turn the audio off or adjust the volume?
- Are the animations synchronized with the audio (if applicable)?
- Do all the animations appear and disappear as expected?
- Does the video play all the way through?
- Is the audio high quality?
- Go through the quiz, making sure to select the correct answers and review the feedback. Make sure the score correctly shows you’ve gotten 100% at the end and that the correct amount of points is shown (if applicable).
- Go through the quiz again, this time selecting the incorrect answers and reviewing the feedback. Make sure the score correctly shows you’ve gotten 0% at the end and that the correct amount of points is shown (if applicable).
- Go through the quiz a third time. Alternate right and wrong answers. Check the score again and make sure it’s correct.
- Go through the quiz a final time, alternating right and wrong answers again but in the opposite order as the time before. Make sure the score is reporting correctly.
Note that if you’re using a tool like Rise, you can skip this part of the review since all the functionality is prebuilt and it works perfectly every time.
Check for User-Friendliness
Once you’ve tested your course and you’re sure the content, design, and functionality are as expected, ask a potential learner to test it. They’ll be able to give you some great feedback about the course content and usability that you, as the course creator, are too close to the project to see. Here are some questions you should ask them when they’re done viewing the course:
- Was the course helpful and relevant to your job?
- What are the three most relevant things you learned?
- How confident are you that you can apply the new skill(s) you learned on the job?
- Is there anything you didn’t understand?
- Do you think the quiz accurately assessed your understanding of the course materials?
- Were the questions too easy, too hard, or just right?
- Was the feedback too detailed, not detailed enough, or just right?
- Were the navigational instructions provided explicit enough?
- Did you always know where to click, or did you sometimes feel lost and unsure where to click?
Armed with this checklist, you can deliver your course to learners knowing you did everything you could to make sure it fits their needs, works properly, and looks professional. Remember: if it’s not perfect (and no course ever is) you can always go back and make changes later on, after you get learner feedback.
And while we’re on the topic of course review, here are some other great resources you should check out:
- Why We Love Articulate Review (and You Will, Too)
- Speed Collaboration with Articulate Review
- 3 Ways Articulate Review Is a Big Gift for Course Developers
- 5 Steps to an Easier E-Learning Course Review Process
- Follow These 3 Tips to Put the “Pro” Back In Your Review Process
- Rise Example: A Course for Stakeholders on the Review Process
What do you think of this checklist? Is there anything on your review checklist that I missed? If so, please share in the comments section below! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.