The Two Keys to Successful Course Authoring
No matter which course authoring tool you use, there are two steps you must take before you start. Designing, developing and delivering effective training is hard work under the best of circumstances because you are working with many moving parts that are not under your control. Assert authority to ensure success before things start spiraling out of control by investing time upfront to do some organizing and to learn what you’ll need to know about the software you’ll be using.
Organizing after the fact is not possible; once you get started you are on the hamster run, and you won’t have time to get off and go backward to do what you now realize you should have done first. Moreover, you seal the deal of setting yourself up for pain and suffering by not knowing how to leverage your course authoring software’s true capabilities to make your project run efficiently, even though that’s the reason you bought it in the first place.
Follow these two steps to ensure success.
Organize content, workflow, and deliverables before you start
Rarely does a new training program begin from a blank slate, so make it a priority to gather and organize your source content well ahead of your start date. Organizing includes a thorough clean-up of the content files to strip them of everything unnecessary, including information, images, and formatting. Save the prepared material in a logically numbered and named folder and file system to make it intuitive for you and your team as you later direct them to work with this material. If essential elements are missing, find or build them before your project start date.
Moreover, while you likely have a general workflow, it is worth taking the time to tailor it to fit your specific project needs and then to communicate it and gain consensus. Otherwise, you end up chasing after the “we always do it this way” crowd rather than leading them down the path to success.
Finally, define and communicate the specific requirements of the expected deliverables before project work begins to minimize do-overs. Establish, share and require the use of project-specific templates, style guides, and protocols for expressing directions.
Know how to leverage your software
It is essential to understand the mechanics of how your software works before you start using it on a real project. If you do nothing else, make the time to practice creating some test files that mimic your exact desired result. Once you’ve nailed the mechanics, you will be better equipped to seek the additional information you need to connect the dots between the mechanics and the work tasks required to achieve your goal.
Most software makes it relatively easy to get going. However, it doesn’t take long before you need to edit, rearrange, add or remove things. Worse, you may find that the results you were expecting your software to deliver are not happening. To avoid this heartache, know how the advanced features of your software can help you accomplish these tasks before you need them. Your software is logical, and it runs on code that is already in place and follows a specific if-then path. To leverage the power built into your software you need to understand it’s logic before you start using it; it will not adapt to you.
Yes, you DO have the time to do these two steps
If you’ve read this far, you are now thinking “That’s all very nice, but I do not have the luxury of that kind of time.” Yes, you do. Because following these two steps will save time during design and development. How much? A lot, and that’s just an estimate.