Production: How to approach the 4th phase in the elearning production process

production phase

Today, we’re focusing on the production phase, the fourth step in the five-step elearning production process. Production is the point at which your planning and design come together. Here are some key steps you can follow to make sure the production runs smoothly.

Related: Read more about the analysis phase, design phase or specification phase.

1. Map out content

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Previously, in the design phase, you mapped out the big idea and now it’s time to get into details. Use a mind map or flowchart to map out the overall flow or experience.

For example, let’s say that there are going to be ten core interactions. Map out what will go into each of those interactions. Think about the discussion point, your objective, and the experience that’s going to fall into each component.

In the analysis phase, you developed a clear idea of one or two key outcomes and looked at any source content that was available. Now you can start pulling together and organizing what you’ve got already into a series of chunks. Once that is done, you can refine it and give it more focus. In this phase, you must be very disciplined, so you can get rid of any extraneous bits you don’t need.

Coggle is the mind map I like to use. Paste in your chunks, ideas and snippets to see how everything fits together. Identify where there are questions for which you need help from your subject matter experts (SMEs). The best way to get information from SMEs is to be very specific about what you want.

Recently, the Elucidat team was involved in a complex health care project that had a range of experts involved. To keep things structured, we sent SMEs really targeted mini questionnaires, so that each of them could give their input. The questionnaires included queries designed to provoke insightful feedback from our recipients, like: how do you communicate your complex subject matter to a different audience of caregivers?

By giving SMEs a set of questions, we were able to structure and constrain the feedback that we wanted to get back from them.

2. Storyboard

Storyboarding is the method of orchestrating all the elements that will make up the elearning to create a score. This is much like in musical composition, where all team members can follow along the same “notes.”

Here are 10 storyboarding elements you will include:

  • Text
  • Graphics
  • Animations
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Resources
  • Links
  • References
  • Interactions
  • Activities

A storyboard explains how all the elements fit together. In other words, it acts like an instruction manual for the team.

Some people may choose to create storyboards with applications such as PowerPoint or Word. I prefer to work directly in rapid development tools such as Elucidat. The advantage of working inside a tool like Elucidat is that you have a more visual layout (instead of words in a documents). This makes it a lot easier for all stakeholders to interpret the screens and interactions.

Peer-to-peer/stakeholder review

Instead of creating Word documents and using the ‘track changes’ feature to add comments and suggestions, authoring tools – like Elucidat – include inbuilt features which help keep reviews and bug tracking all in one place inside the project files.

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For example, if you do your storyboarding inside Elucidat, your team can click directly on the screen element they want to feedback on. This makes it really easy to interpret the issue or feedback and manage any changes and updates.

3. Create screens and templates

Your map and storyboard will give you a list of the interaction and screen types for the project. Sometimes developers will create each of these from scratch. But, tools like Elucidat can now ship with a range of screen and interaction types already fully built and tested.

The benefit of using these themes is that you don’t need to spend time and money on costly development. You can set up a project and very quickly select a pre-built template that lets you see the whole project mapped out. You can use project view to see all the branching and navigation right from the start.

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4. Involve graphic designers

Graphic designers should work closely with your team. They must be involved at the early stages and contribute through the elearning process.

Involve graphic designers at the storyboarding stage, so they can create graphics that support what the text is communicating.

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For any key overarching concepts that get reinforced and used across a module, consider asking your designer to create graphics that visually represent these ideas, so you can make them memorable. Visual memory hooks can help to reinforce your core points.

5. Bring it all together and build

Now it’s time to bring all the elements together – a little like an assembly line. The production phase becomes really simple if you’ve completed the work in the previous three stages (analysis, design, and specification). If you haven’t done the upfront work you can easily waste a lot of time tinkering around and feeling lost.

Some tools allow you to voice record narrative on the fly, but, for best results, have a voice over artist record in a studio and then integrate the sound files into the course at the build stage. Video, graphics and any other media can be assembled along with the text.

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Use Elucidat’s responsive slider to test different mobile screen sizes as you go. This saves heaps of time, as you only need to develop the course once for different devices.

And finally, if you plan to deploy your elearning in an LMS or LRS or need it to track the learning in any way, development tools that automatically build compliant LMS/LRS ready elearning, such as Elucidat, will really speed up this process.

In conclusion

The production phase should be short and simple. If you’ve done all the work necessary in the design and specification phases, then this phase will just be about assembling the output.

The most important thing here is to have a clear set of easy-to-interpret instructions that your team can follow. Consider using tools – like Elucidat – that allow multiple people to work simultaneously on projects, eliminating the need to package up files and send them around your team. This is a real time-saver that compresses the duration of the production phase and reduces the stress of managing multiple versions of project files.

Other phases in the elearning production process:

Steve Penfold

Steve Penfold

Steve Penfold is Customer Success Director at Elucidat. He helps large companies and training providers speed up and simplify their elearning authorin
Steve Penfold
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