Authored by Customer Success at D2L
To know if this play is right for you, ask yourself if any of the following statements are true:
- My organization is new to learning management systems and/or new to Brightspace
- My organization does not currently create content for the courses we deliver in Brightspace
- Most of the training, learning, and development programs at my organization do not use an LMS
…IF you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, it is likely that your usage and adoption rates could be very low, and this play is right for you!
…IF you’ve answered “no” to all these questions, another play may be better suited.
Before you can get started building a course in your Brightspace site, you need to know exactly what you want your course to accomplish, how you will gather the content you need, and how you will measure results.
This adoption play provides some tips for how to get started with the basics of designing a course so that you can get started creating your own company-specific content in Brightspace.
- Provide inspiration and guidance on simple course design
- Give suggestions on how to build a detailed plan for the kinds of content you want to create in your online course
Step 1: Define and Gather
Define the key takeaways - When thinking about what content to include in your course, start with the results you want to accomplish through this course, and think back to what kind of information is needed to accomplish these results. Your results are the key takeaways you want everyone taking your course to end up with (in D2L language we often refer to these as “learning objectives”).
To learn more about how to write accurate and measurable key takeaways for your courses, check out the article: Achieve Business Goals with Accurate, Meaningful Learning Objectives.
“Content first, design second. We need to know what we are building before we know how to build it” - Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai, CNIB’s Head of Research and Chief Accessibility Officer
Find the content - Check all the places where information related to your course topic gets stored in your organization today to see if you already have any of the necessary materials – chances are you do! Useful materials can be anything from Google Docs to PowerPoint slides to image files and website links. Some of the best places to look for these materials include email, OneNote, SharePoint, company Slack channels, company Intranet sites, or anywhere else your organization stores information.
Gap analysis - Keeping the key takeaways of your course in mind, review the materials you’ve collected and conduct a gap analysis to determine what information, if any, is missing.
Fill the gap - Finally, establish a plan for how you are going to create or acquire the missing content identified through your gap analysis. To fill these gaps, ask the following questions:
- Are there subject matter experts in your organization that could contribute their knowledge to fill some gaps?
- Do you have anyone whose role it is to help new or existing employees learn specific job-related skills or acquire general information about your company/products/services in your organization that you could ask to be a contributor? For example, people in the following roles might be well suited to creating the kind of content you’re looking for:
- Sales enablement roles
- HR – onboarding and/or leadership development roles
- Operations roles
Tip: seek out people in your organization who might have KPIs or OKRs aligned with sharing their subject matter expertise across the organization or helping others grow their knowledge of the subject matter on which they are experts to act as content contributors for your course.
"The secret of getting ahead is getting started" - Mark Twain
Step 2: Organize
Folder structure - the information for your course needs to be organized into easy to follow chunks - in D2L language we call these “modules” and “topics.” A module is a folder that contains information related to one “chunk” of information, and topics are the contents of the folder (made up of pieces of the learning material you collected in step 1 and any assignments, quizzes, or discussions that you want to include). You can create a hierarchy for your information by using a series of modules and sub-modules – however, we recommended using no more than 3 levels for best user experience.
Tip: Each module should cover one significant idea or concept for your course and contain as many topics as you need to help anyone taking the course to master the concept.
Naming conventions – module titles need to be brief and communicate the order in which you want people to access them: Does the course follow a timed progression (ie/ week 1, week 2 etc.)? Should the course be accessed in linear order (ie/ module 1, module 2)? Or, is the course is meant to be accessed according to the learner’s preference where you want employees to pick and choose the modules that are of greatest interest? If so, your titles only need to be descriptive and don’t need a date or number.
- Use title case (i.e. capitalize all content words)
- Include the module date or number (e.g. Module 4: Leading the Change)
- 3-5-word descriptive titles of what that module is about
- Generally, no periods or other punctuation EXCEPT colons (:)
Refer to The Importance of Consistent Course design for more information on basic course design and to access a sample style guide.
Media, Length, and Pace – Using a blend of different ways of presenting information in each module (ie/ videos, infographics, short articles etc.) will help capture the attention of anyone taking your course and keep them interested as they progress through each module. Also important to consider is the length and pacing of your modules. People learn most effectively when they can consume information presented in bite-sized chunks on-demand and at their own pace.
Tip: Learners relate most easily to information that is scenario-based and tend to retain information more effectively when they receive regular feedback on their learning progress. Consider including learning activities that incorporate the practical application of the information as well as opportunities for delivering feedback into your course.
Step 3: Measuring Results
An important consideration to keep in mind while planning for your online course is measurement. You need to establish how you will know when someone has achieved your key takeaways and understand your related reporting needs. In D2L language, we talk about various ways to achieve and measure “course completion” to discuss how you will know when someone is done with your course and what needs to happen inside the course to generate data that can be used to track what courses people have completed.
Tip: Data from your organization’s Brightspace site can help you get a fuller picture of what is happening within your courses, for example: what is the average time it takes someone to complete a course?
There are three basic kinds of courses that require different methods for achieving and measuring completion in a course:
1. Informational courses – if your course is purely informational and not mandatory, you don’t need to worry about collecting data about who has completed which courses. But, you still do need to decide how you want people to progress through your course.
Typically, informational courses will:
- Require learners to view all the information in the course modules/topics to achieve completion. For example, general professional development courses like public speaking or communication skills. Or,
- Expect that learners will pick and choose what modules and topics in a course are most interesting or relevant for them and view only selected items. For example, someone might choose to only view the job aids or a sales pitch deck from a course while they are on-the-job to help them accomplish an immediate task.
2. Required tracking of completion – is the course part of mandatory learning (ie/ for compliance or onboarding?) If so, completion of a course needs to be tracked and monitored by a manager or supervisor and your course should include an activity to mark the course as complete (ie/ quiz, assignment, self-reflection etc). For example, you could have learners complete a one question quiz at the end of every course that acts as an acknowledgement that the course has been completed but has no formal assessment value. This course “completion” quiz will trigger the gathering of statistics that can easily show a manager who has completed the course (refer to How to View Quiz Statistics to learn how).
3. Formal assessment components – If your course requires some formal assessment components for a learner to achieve completion, there are many assessment options available to you in Brightspace, including the quiz tool, self-assessments, video assignments etc. Each of these activities can have a formal evaluation attached to them, which is then tracked through the grades tool or the Competencies tool.