Tag Archives: design process

Showing My Work #2

The Showing My Work series of posts are what I’m using to ‘narrate’ the projects that I’m working on or have developed.

I’ve been designing and developing some eLearning modules for the employees in my organisation. Prior to my arrival, eLearning wasn’t used very much and unfortunately what did exist was mostly eReading.

Looking at our existing courses, they appeared to be mostly a cut-and-paste from the policy or procedure document with a few questions at the end with not much interactivity at all. There also wasn’t a structure around creating and building the eLearning modules themselves. So, I introduced a process for eLearning module development (I also use a variation for classroom courses). This development process is based on how I was taught to develop modules by the company who gave me my first opportunity as an instructional designer.

Here’s what our design process now looks like:


In this process, each stage builds on the work done in the previous one. This is what happens at each stage:

1. Kick-off meeting:

This is the first meeting I have with the Subject Matter Expert (SME) and where:

  • I give an overview of the development process and what will happen at each stage
  • We discuss the requirements for learning and the module
  • I ask questions about the topic, the learners, what they doing now and what they need to do after the course
  • I gather the content for module
  • I take lots of notes.

2. Design Strategy (DS):

A DS is an overview of what the module is about, the learner characteristics and what will be included – the objectives, order of topics, sub-topics and a summary of content, scenarios and activities. At this stage:

  • I produce a DS document based on information gathered from the kick-off meeting
  • I work out a structure for the module
  • I consult further with the SME (if required)
  • Once completed, I send the DS to the SME for feedback (including any other stakeholders)
  • I collate the feedback provided by the SME and incorporate into the DS
  • Then I send a revised DS back to the SME for approval and sign-off.

3. Storyboard:

A storyboard is a screen-by-screen breakdown of the module – text, narration, graphics and descriptions of interactions. It also includes any resources that the learners can use. At this stage:

  • I produce a storyboard based on the information contained in the DS document
  • I also create a few screen mock-ups, to show the look and feel of the course
  • Once completed, I send the storyboard to the SME for feedback
  • I collate the feedback provided by the SME and incorporate into the storyboard
  • Then I send a revised storyboard back to the SME for approval and sign-off.

4. Module Creation:

  • I create the e-learning module in our authoring tool (Articulate Storyline) using the content, images and instructions from the storyboard
  • I conduct some Quality Assurance (QA) to check functionality, spelling etc.
  • I have at least one of my colleagues look it over
  • Fix anything identified in the QA
  • I send the module to the SME for feedback
  • I collate any feedback provided by the SME and incorporate into the module
  • Then I send a revised module back to the SME for approval and sign-off.

5. Deployment:

  • Ideally, I like to send a module to a pilot group for testing and feedback
  • I then incorporate their feedback into the module
  • The e-learning module is deployed to the relevant staff via our LMS.

I use word documents for my DS and storyboard and I’ve created templates that I can use for each new module. Here’s a sample from the storyboard of our safety module:


I have used PowerPoint in the past for the storyboard (at the request of a client) and while it does allow you to see what the finished product will look like, I find using word helps the SME’s to focus on the words being used.

Overall, what I like about this process is that the SME’s are involved at each stage and have input as the module is developed – it’s an iterative process. While the above stages look straightforward, in reality it doesn’t always work as smoothly as I describe. What you are reading is the ideal way the process should work. However, in the workplace, the SME’s sometimes make more changes when you send a ‘final’ version for review, they may take longer to get feedback to you than they originally said (which holds things up) and may need some guidance during development, especially if they are new to it. I’ve come to realise that you need to manage these things as best you can.

It’s also important to mention that I don’t always say ‘yes’ to my SME’s requests,. Sometimes you need to push-back, especially if what is being asked is going to negatively impact the learning. I make sure I explain my reasons for not doing something. I find that his can be one of the most challenging aspects of development and something that I’ve worked on. I’m finding this easier to do as my levels of experience and confidence have grown.

I’ve learned that it’s important for modules to be designed in a way that aims to change behaviour and improve performance and are not just a transfer of information via a content dump. When I’m designing I like to think from the learners perspective and ask myself – could I sit through this module and enjoy it and learn something at the same time?

How do develop your eLearning modules?


Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Show Your Work


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