E-learning is no longer a new form of consuming knowledge. Especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, online learning has become an essential means for learning and working, forcing us to get used to it.
If you plan to build an E-learning course, providing people with knowledge that you believe will make them crave, don’t miss the core information in this article. It will help you build an E-learning course with ideal length, excellent quality.
How long should an online training course last?
It depends on how your course is intended. Regardless of how long your students are on your course, the most important thing is to achieve the learning results that your course initially promised.
Your video can last a few minutes, if you only use it to persuade people to sign up for their e-mail addresses.
If you want to sell a $100 course, you should make it longer and invest a lot more effort.
Price doesn’t necessarily relate directly to the length of a course, but it does play an important role. The learning outcome should always be the essential focus your course aims to.
People will be bored and don’t want to finish your course if you make it too long. But if it's too short, they may not feel like it's worth their money.
Below are 2 examples of different E-learning course (examples from Onlinecoursehow):
A starter course teaches people how to grow mushrooms at home: 10 lessons (1 hour, 22 mins).
A full course shows people how a small-scale mushroom farm can be set up: 57 lessons (7 hours, 8 mins).
As you can see from the 2 examples above, there is no correct answer to how long a course should be.
However, to deliver the result your students expect, you should make your course as short as possible.
How long should individual classes be?
You can have a longer overall course if you divide it into different parts, chapters, or modules.
Each part can contain 3 to 10 individual lessons, which all hold together as a relevant subject or step.
Each part should be nice and short for each lesson; only 5 to 20 minutes long.
Moreover, you should create courses aimed at busy people. A large number of your students are probably full-time employees, or have families to take care of.
Therefore, it’s hard for them to spend 30 mins per day sitting down and watching your video.
In addition, psychology shows that people can better retain information if it’s given in small portions with breaks.
This works even for memorizing ability. Instead of trying to capture a long string such as 2678984093, it’s much easier to remember it if you break it down to 267.898.4093.
In addition to providing a better user experience, smaller content also helps you to modify better and edit your video. It's much easier to correct a 5-minute video than a 25-minute.
If your lesson is a little too long, consider dividing it into two different lessons and finding a connection point to do this.
Build a good structure
A detailed structure is fundamental to enhance the student experience, and help you to create a good course.
You might want to provide your students with an overview with instruction, such as completing one part of your course/day or performing certain sections or tasks before continuing.
Some courses will even allow you to set the course to prevent students from skipping ahead (often known as 'dripping' content) by only unlocking one part every 24 hours.
You can also add activities between presentations to make your training interactive.
For example, pretending your course has a 5-min video on each section, to make your students more active, you can instruct them to pause and finish a small task before going back to see the remaining 5 minutes.
How can you enhance your e-learning course?
Besides the ideal length, it’s time to think about how you can make your E-learning course better.
1. You must know "Why
Everyone is busy. And either do your students.
This means you have to understand what they will learn, how they will learn it, and why it will be helpful for them to start the course.
When your students understand the "why," they are more willing to invest and engage in learning.
2. Define “who”
Before releasing your course, you should research your target students by answering a few questions:
What are the students’ objectives after learning your course?
What are your goals set for your students?
How long do your students have to watch your course online?
Even though there are 3 questions you have to answer, they can be distilled into a simple question: Who are your students?
Are they full-time family workers who have to carry the whole big family?
Are they recent graduates who need supplement skills to get a job?
Or are they small business owners who want to increase their income?
If you can correctly answer all those questions, you will know who your students are; then, you can build your course that meets your students’ needs and expectations.
2. Build a specific learning path
It's not just about the content itself to create an online course. How structured it is also important. Content covers similar topics, and corresponding learning outcomes should be grouped into modules.
You should start your course with simple content, and gradually increase the difficulty until students can apply the new skills or knowledge.
This enables students to build their knowledge at a manageable speed to ensure they are confident with their efforts.
The first content, for example, could be intended to equip students with an essential understanding of a concept, or information recalling capability.
Include, therefore, definitions and explanations, along with a few simple examples as notes or infographics.
As the module advances, you can build eLearning content that focuses on practice and chances for students to evaluate their learning path. Quizzes with automated feedback are a suggestion.
3. Try all learning styles
You’re a creator when you develop your E-learning content. This will ensure that students will have various styles and preferences of learning.
Some people are visual learners, some prefer sound, and some want to wet their feet. They're kinesthetic students.
The best way to involve everyone in learning processes is by combining visual, auditory, and kinesthetic eLearning content elements.
To make it happen, you can present skills, knowledge, concepts through diverse video content, graphics, written notes, and activities such as branching scenarios and group tasks.
However, the content of all three learning styles can be presented repeatedly. Don't worry! Because this repeat can lead to better retention and better understanding.
4. Apply active learning
There are so many exciting business training courses. But you don’t have to insist on exciting your course.
To make learners become actively involved in their learning process, it’s possible to balance passive and active content.
Passive content is simple content to consume. Listening to a podcast, watching a video, or reading notices are some examples of passive learning content.
On the other hand, active content enables students to think, solve problems, and practice their knowledge and skills.
To create dynamic content, you can start to ignite simulations. For example, present your team with a roleplaying activity in customer service training, allowing one person to take the role of an unfortunate customer, and other members need to find a solution.
You can also use discussion forums and group assignments to get students to brainstorm and solve problems by working together.
Or, scenarios also allow students to make decisions to learn from the results.
Active e-learning content can provide an increase in motivation and performance, enhancing community collaborating when it comes to encouraging exploration, experimentation, and risk-taking.
5. Keep your course simple and short
“Less is more” is a critical principle when creating content for online training. Students prefer short training content over long, one-time training events.
It can be more difficult to create less content than to create more because it needs to be more focused, concise, and carefully selected.
One of the critical steps of the E-learning development process is to decide what to cut down.
Include only content that helps to achieve learning results. Microlearning principles can also be utilized to create bite-sized content for a fast and flexible learning experience.
The students are busy. Thus, you have to estimate how long all the content would take in the course (reading notes, watching videos, completing a quiz, etc.).
You might want to cut some parts of your content down if the estimated total time overwhelms your students.
6. Prioritize quality
Nobody wants to read a book scattered with typos, or watch a poorly produced film. So why would students like to face the same problem in their eLearning courses?
Besides, errors distract the learning process, and can lead to unpleasant learning experiences.
So, whether you are filming a video, recording a podcast, creating a graphic, or writing notes, always prioritize quality.
Don't ever let background noises interrupt the leading voice (e.g. speaking head-videos and podcasts). Carefully proofread written content to avoid bad spelling and grammar errors.
7. Use the right language
The learning content is only valuable when it speaks the target audience's language. That means you have to choose an understandable and relatable language.
If your learners have to re-read or re-play your video to clarify what that means, they are losing attention.
So, try to create content that is at the correct level, using understandable terminology.
To make sure you are using the right language, you should research your audience's background. However, if you're not yet entirely sure your concept matches your students, take the more straightforward approach first.
If students feel that they cover something they already understand, they will skip to the next activity.
With specialized courses, using industry jargon can make your content more attractive. For example, you want to use terms such as "bug" or "DRaaS" in an Information technology course to speak your students' language.
8. Be authentic
We are in the online content era. With the endless amount of great videos, articles, and other online resources, you can only pick up content relating to your topics and call it a course.
Now, content reuse is not all bad. It can be very efficient, giving students a more diverse perspective and an exciting collection of learning activities. But you will have to be original if you want your online course to be something that truly skyrockets.
Make sure you uniquely create at least 50% of your E-learning course content. Write notes, create information graphics, and make videos that students couldn't find elsewhere!
What if I can’t talk for a long time?
Some people naturally speak straight for hours, while others have to stop and sip water every few minutes.
If you are the second case, it can actually be helpful to break your videos or audio recordings into smaller segments. Short videos that last 2 to 5 minutes can be simply uploaded too.
Or, you can resemble shorter segments into a longer 10-minute video, so your students won’t notice that the video was shot in more than one video.
Do I need to consider the budget?
How much should you spend on the course production? Do you need external resources to support you in technical matters or provide third parties' content? If you decide the length of your course, don't forget this point.
Are there any other tips to involve students in my course?
Allow your students to explore the content in your course by making it an adventure. Even if that involves hunting scavengers, allowing them to go back and look at material several times to find an overshadowed word or something similar.
Direct your students to extra guides, optional reading, and resources on your lessons as additional information to make them engage with your course.
This is an excellent means of strengthening what they learn and encouraging them to search for more information.
Of course, creating content will probably be the biggest challenge in developing an E-learning course. But don't be afraid to face the challenge!
By applying the tips in this article, you can rest assured that you have a solid foundation for building a good E-learning course.
In addition, with regularly updating knowledge, constant improvements, your course will soon grab student’s interest.