Content Management: Curating Course Materials for Optimized eLearning
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The learning ecosystem is used to describe the web of tools and solutions that integrate and connect to deliver educational resources to learners in an organized and seamless fashion. Content is one of the few truly essential elements of this ecosystem. After all, if you don’t have engaging content to accompany verbal instruction or lessons, your learners are bound to lose interest or the ability to understand and digest information.
To optimize your learning ecosystem, you will need to curate the right course materials for your users and deliver this content through an eLearning system, or learning management system (LMS), that allows you to organize, track, and report on the effectiveness of your content. The good news is that there are a wide variety of content options available to educators and training administrators that can make learning very engaging for all types of learners.
Types of Content
It is worth keeping in mind that there are many types of materials that you can deliver through the components of your learning ecosystem. When you are sourcing content, you can look outside the bounds of traditional full-fledged courses. These are some examples:
- Complete courses
- Interactive books
- Educational games
- Interactive quizzes
In some cases, you may prefer to buy an interactive book from another source then build a complementary course, for example. It is common to bring videos and graphics from other sources into eLearning courses.
Identifying the Content That Will Work for You
One of the key challenges of eLearning is making sure that the right content is available to the right users at the right time. For relatively simple eLearning systems, this can often be done with a little intuition and some feedback from users. However, as soon as you scale up your ecosystem, you start to need a more rigorous strategy for curating content.
Before you begin to select specific courses that you could use, it is helpful to think about the functional and non-functional requirements for your content. The following are several questions to think about:
- What do my users need? It is always important to start by thinking about your users and their requirements. Students have very different expectations than customers. Similarly, employees have their own eLearning needs. It can be helpful to talk to users directly to gather insights for planning your content curation process.
- How complex are my topics? Think about how technical your topics are. eLearning can look very different when it is teaching employees about HR policies than when it is teaching master’s students advanced engineering concepts.
- Are my topics generic or specific? Are you teaching topics that are being taught by others? Think about whether you need content that is unique to your organization or not. If there is a mix, consider what the rough breakdown may be.
- Do learners need to be assessed? How often? If your organization is a university, assessment is likely a huge portion of eLearning. However, some other types of eLearning do not require as rigorous or frequent assessments. Some don’t need testing at all.
- How interactive should my materials be? Interactive learning content can help to improve engagement. Some topics benefit from interactivity more than others.
- Does my content need to be protected? Consider how easily you want people to be able to find your content. In some workplace applications, it may be helpful to make courses relatively open. However, if you are selling your content, you probably want to make sure you have strict access controls.
- Are there technical or compliance requirements? Some eLearning environments require content that meets certain regulatory and compliance standards. Additionally, you may need content that is compliant with SCORM or xAPI.
Sourcing Your Content
Depending on the answers to the above questions, you may look to source your content in different ways. You can purchase individual courses as needed for your LMS. Alternatively, you may purchase or subscribe to a catalog of content like those available from Go1 or OpenSesame. Of course, you can also develop your own courses (either in-house or outsourced). Each of these approaches is equally valid but may fit different eLearning environments better. You can always mix and match different approaches as needed.
Regardless of how you choose to source your courses, you should focus on finding reliable sources. So, if you want to buy from a catalog, make sure it is a high-quality provider with a proven track record of factual, verifiable information. Similarly, if you outsource the creation of custom content, only work with providers that have strong records of creating excellent educational material. In some cases, you may need to hire subject matter experts to contribute to and/or oversee your content curation.
Evaluating Your Content
Finally, you will need to evaluate the content you have sourced. This should be an ongoing process. As with the requirements gathering process, it can be helpful to interview users directly. It is also useful to look at key metrics. For example, you will likely want to examine course completion rates. In some cases, it is useful to evaluate users after they have completed the course to check retention. With robust analytics, you can help to ensure that you constantly have an optimal eLearning catalog for your organization’s needs.
With our world-class eLearning solutions, including content creation services, the experts at Open LMS can help you find and evaluate the right content and learning platform capable of meeting your unique requirements.