10 keys to develop high quality eLearning tutorials
eLearning tutorials are a very useful type of learning resources when it comes to describing processes based on step-by-step sequences of actions intended to complete a task. They are applicable to multiple activities, and very often, tutorials are related to the “Do It Yourself” concept, also known by the acronym DIY.
A quick internet search will throw so many tutorials about virtually everything in many formats, such as video (Youtube), specialized web portals, or just being part of any type of web page.
After analyzing many tutorials, we have observed things such as video-tutorials presenting issues at the time of following the steps, given the need of using the “pause” so many times. In other cases, tutorials are published in web portals where the instructions are mixed with too many ads, causing struggles to the user.
We propose the following 10 keys, based on the good results that we have achieved following them:
- Know the topic. An obvious one, but it’s really important for high-quality tutorials to be based on subject matter experts’ knowledge and skills. They will ensure the accuracy of the content.
- Instructional design and storyboarding. Any eLearning project requires a design process oriented to achieve the learning objectives, and that also applies to on-line tutorials.
- Content segmentation. Structure the content in modules of around half hour duration. A good distribution of the content will help the user with the learning process.
- Offer one image for each step. Another obvious one, but it’s important to offer one image to the user for each of the steps outlined by the tutorial. It can be a screen shot or picture that will help the user to have a very clear guide through the actions to be performed to follow the tutorial steps.
- Avoid video. Tutorials based on video and describing a set of step-by-step actions, require the user to “pause” repeatedly while doing the actions. Have ever tried? Therefore, we recommend using video only when it becomes really needed.
- Explain each step accurately. Possibly the essence of any tutorial. It is very important to document each step with text, image, and clues for the user to have all the information required to go through the flow of actions. Each step requires to be a specific action, and “stand still”, so that the participant has time to perform the activity.
- Don’t skip steps. Very often the authors are such experts that they omit steps which they consider obvious, but users can’t guess. This makes the testing phase so important.
- Test each and every step. It is a very good practice to have the tutorial tested by the authoring team to ensure the consistency of the final product. This will definitely enhance the content. More testing iterations will result in higher quality.
- Beta testing. If the eLearning tutorial is going to be exposed to a large audience, make a beta testing with a reduced group of users. That will either validate the content, help to identify errors or fine tune the content based on users’ recommendations.
- Final adjustments. After the testing phase, just make the necessary final adjustments, and you will likely obtain a high quality eLearning tutorial !