Modern, high-quality e-learning courses are typically complex, particularly in terms of structure, features, and technology. Depending on the subject matter, the content of the course can be complex too. As a result, errors, bugs, and issues can arise during development, making quality assurance (QA) an essential part of the design process.
What are the problems and challenges that arise in e-learning development that effective QA processes can overcome?
The QA process during an e-learning development project will have a significant focus on usability. After all, even if everything else is perfect, the course is unlikely to become successful if it delivers a poor learner experience.
Some things that are checked during the QA process include the instructional design features of the course and the level of control enjoyed by the learner. Making sure the information is in the correct order is important too.
Device and Browser Suitability
In most organisations, employees will use a wide range of devices. They may also choose to use a personal device such as a mobile phone to complete an e-learning training course. Therefore, it is important to check the course works on all devices and browsers.
It is sometimes assumed this is standard as e-learning courses are usually developed to be responsive. The reality, however, is that there are multiple things that can negatively impact the responsive capabilities of an e-learning course, so testing and checking are essential.
There are some e-learning courses that are linear, but it is increasingly common for courses to have multiple paths that a learner can work through. This more complex type of navigation increases the risk of navigation issues, such as a learner getting stuck on a screen with no obvious way of moving forward.
QA processes check e-learning navigation to ensure there are no dead ends and everything works as expected.
Making e-learning courses engaging is crucial to success, so QA processes should assess the content and how it is presented to ensure it is as good as possible.
Checking the functionality is important too. This involves clicking on all the buttons and menu items links, checking videos play properly, and going through scenarios and/or gamification features to make sure everything works as it should.
Accuracy and Validity of Information
Checking the content is an essential part of the QA process, too, as it is important the content is correct, accurate, and valid. This part of the process sometimes requires the assistance of the client’s employees, but a professional e-learning development company will take the lead.
When doing a QA check on the information in an e-learning course, there are some areas that can sometimes be overlooked. This includes:
- Information on videos, especially text information either in the video or presented as captions or subtitles.
- Text on images and infographics.
- The questions and answers included in quizzes.
- Translated versions of the course if it is needed in other languages, such as where you will be distributing it to teams outside the UAE or Saudi Arabia.
Checking these areas should also be part of the QA process.
The last item in the list above is important enough to have a section of its own, as translating text is only one part of the localisation process. It is also essential that QA checks also analyse other localisation elements to ensure the course is suitable for its target audience.
For example, is there anything in the content that could be misinterpreted by parts of the intended audience, or are there cultural references that won’t make sense?
Visual Appearance, Design Consistency, Tone, Branding, and Media Elements
Checking the visual appearance and overall style of the course is important to the QA process too. Areas covered by this part of e-learning QA include:
- Design consistency
- Tone (formal, casual, technical, etc)
- Media elements
It is also important to check the readability of content while making sure the course doesn’t cause cognitive overload because it is presenting too much information too quickly.
Spelling and Grammar
Eliminating spelling and grammar issues helps maintain the professionalism of e-learning courses. In some situations, spelling mistakes or grammatical errors can change the meaning of a word or sentence, so this part of QA is important for accuracy too.
Checking the user interface is about making sure the design of the e-learning course looks right and is properly formatted. For example, are the graphics displaying properly, do labels appear in the right place, and do the buttons look right?
This part of the QA process is connected to checking device and browser suitability, as without proper care, attention, and QA, e-learning courses can look perfect on some browsers and devices but have errors and problems on others.
Accessibility is about making e-learning courses suitable for learners of all levels of ability. It is a requirement that is often achieved through design and the use of technology, but it shouldn’t be assumed that everything will work as expected. As with all other parts and elements of an e-learning course, accessibility should be methodically checked as part of a structured QA process.
The QA Process in E-Learning Development
In a previous blog, we outlined the benefits of QA in the e-learning design and development process. Those benefits include:
- Enhanced confidence and engagement
- Improved accuracy and learner experience
- Savings in time and money
In the next blog in this series, we’ll look at the QA process and how to optimise it when developing a new e-learning course.