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How do we develop e-learning at Virtual College?

schedule 27th April 2018 by Matthew Dickinson in Virtual College Last updated on 27th April 2018


Virtual College e-learning design and development strategy

Have you ever wondered how exactly e-learning modules are designed and developed?

At Virtual College, we typically follow the widely used ADDIE design model and methodology when designing and developing e-learning. ADDIE stands for: analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation. Each of these terms represents a specific phase in the development process.

Analysis phase

In the analysis phase, we work very closely with our customer and/or subject matter expert (SME) to establish the instructional goal, to understand the audience and to specify the learning objectives. Let’s have a closer look at each of these areas:

  • Instructional goal: Knowing the instructional goal is essential, as it informs us what exactly an e-learning module is supposed to achieve. Typical goals are:
    • To teach skills
    • To improve performance
    • To raise awareness
    • To change behaviour
  • Target audience: The better we understand the target audience, the easier it is to ensure that the e-learning module is suitable for this audience. We typically collect information about age, gender, abilities, literacy skills, prior knowledge and skills, etc. A module for an academic audience, for example, will differ from a module for learners with low are very mixed literacy skills. Or, if we create e-learning for an international audience, we need also be aware of cultural differences.
  • Learning Objectives: Learning objectives need to be aligned with the instructional goal. The main question is: what does the learner need to be able to do to achieve the instructional goal? In line with Bloom’s taxonomy, we use active and measurable verbs to describe the learning objectives.

Design phase

In the design phase, we collect and/or research the content, agree the learning strategy with the customer, list the graphic requirements, start thinking about the assessments that we are going to use and create the storyboard.

We use the knowledge that we gained during the analysis phase to guide us. For example, if the instructional goal is to teach software skills, we might decide to use videos to demonstrate the skills or simulations to let the learner practice these skills in a safe environment. Alternatively, if we want to raise awareness or change behaviour, we might make authentic scenarios a central part of the e-learning.

Development phase

In the development phase, we create or purchase assets (graphics, videos etc.), build the module and write the assessments. Then we check everything carefully. Our standards team proofreads the module and checks its functionality. The customer and/or SME checks that the content is complete and correct and that the module meets their expectation. The quality team then tests it on different devices and in different browsers. We correct errors and make all required changes.

Implementation phase

During the implementation phase, we upload the module to the Learning Management System (LMS).

Evaluation phase

Evaluation starts during the design phase and continues throughout the rest of the development process. Subject matter experts and customers review the module and provide feedback that we will then use to improve the module further. Learners have the opportunity to provide feedback on completion of their learning. Their feedback is considered when updating a module and is also valuable for all future developments.

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Author: Matthew Dickinson

Matthew is a Learning Solutions Consultant, helping to design learning experiences for clients. He has a keen interest in how technology can be used to enhance learning. In his spare time he is a Leeds United fan for his sins.

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Awards for footer
Gold and silver award winners at the Learning Technologies Awards 2017 - including gold for excellence in the design of learning content.


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