ELearning/Course building

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Creating, testing, assembling, and connecting all course components into a finished product that meets quality requirements, student learning needs, and instructor teaching needs. We transition from thinking about and planning for design to the practical tasks of building and assembling our design to make it a reality.

The building process implements the course plan as faithfully as is appropriate given real-world constraints, changing circumstances, and emerging technologies. Fortunately for designers of all stripes, course building tools have become more sophisticated, more user friendly, and lower cost. This section addresses the following concerns in course building.

Managing learning

Two practical issues designers need to be mindful of and make decisions about as they build a course: managing learner attention and cognitive load. These are not new issues, but are more specifically addressed here than elsewhere, including specific recommendations.

Managing learner attention

Attention is a fragile thing, and sustained attention high in effort and energy. Designers need to understand it and use strategies and techniques to maintain and accommodate it.

Managing cognitive load

First addressed in the ELearning/Foundations section, the central purpose of managing cognitive load is to make learning more effective and/or efficient. We do this by reducing irrelevant load, appropriately imposing relevant load, and tailoring instruction to learner experience and expertise.

Component media

Course building requires us to first select the media and tools we will use to create the various components that together make up the course. As we do, there are several considerations to keep in mind.

Media characteristics

For any particular purpose, a number of media may be useful. Sometimes the choice is obvious, but other times not. What does the research say, if anything, about the best use of text, graphics, photos, audio and video, animation, color? We briefly review the literature and propose some guidelines.

Fidelity and learning

How realistic and true-to-life do your photos, graphics, explanations, and simulations need to be in order to promote learning? Fact is, accuracy is not always best and can interfere with learning. We discuss how to apply fidelity to your instruction.

Learning platforms

Where do you provide access to your course and course components? What platforms do you design for? Increasingly, the answers are everywhere and for everything, from pc to the iphone to the cloud. This article briefly discusses important considerations as you decide the right combination for you.

Build components

Guidance for managing, building and testing course components that together make up the learning product.

Building for the web: Technical considerations

Bandwidth issues and media properties you need to know when building for the web.


For every component you create, there are many available tools. We don’t try to describe them all, but look at a sampling of the major categories including office applications, presentation software, bitmap and vector graphics tools, audio and video recording, collaboration tools, learning management systems and more.

Building specific components

Guidance and instruction for building some of the most commonly used components.

Assemble the whole

Returning to your course plan, this process involves loading external assets, linking all components, sequencing them, and establishing the schedule by assigning dates and times. With each step, decisions large and small need to be made.

Test & review

Testing involves clicking buttons and links to ensure they function as planned and take the learner to the correct destination, and final testing of learning assets. Review is accomplished using the quality rubric you previously selected, making edits and changes as indicated. Once the standards are met, the course is ready for launch.