Beyond the Webinar: Choosing the Course Authoring Model & Team

In order to know what type of team you need to accomplish your eLearning initiatives, you have to first decide what type of learning you want to create and what model of development can best accomplish those goals. There are three models: instructor-led synchronous courses, instructor-led asynchronous courses and self-paced asynchronous modules. This blog post will not address instructor-led synchronous courses, which are live presentations.

The instructor-led asynchronous course model relies on the course development model, which is the typical higher education model of author/editor. This is where an expert is asked to design a syllabus of journal readings, textbook readings, discussion forums, and assignments. The course is managed for a set number of weeks by the expert who functions as a discussion facilitator and assignment grader. Information is conveyed and received, but interactivity is limited. This model grew out of the correspondence learning course model that dates back to the 1880s in which students would study at home and work at their own pace.

If that sounds drab, more and more higher education professionals are using short, self-paced, interactive learning activities to create a more enriching series of learning experiences. Generally, these activities reinforce the readings or recorded lectures. The key concept is learning by doing rather than just knowing.  The growing use of interactivities like short labs, two-way conversation choices, virtual simulations and machine software operation exercises are the future to creating engaging online learning experiences.

This brings us to the second model. The self-paced asynchronous modules model first received stimulus from government training mandates. Mandatory yearly training on compliance issues on worker safety and banking regulations promoted the explosion of what people in the eLearning industry refer to as simply a “page-turner.” eLearning professionals acknowledge the importance of industry origins, but see the value in creating a course that goes beyond such a basic concept. The desired goal is to create a learning environment that asks users to do something or make a decision through concepts such as: choose your own adventure story, branching exercises, drag and drop, etc. The learner has the opportunity to engage with the material and demonstrate that they understand the concepts.

The authoring model for self-paced modules generally involves a team approach where you have an expert, writer, graphic artist and computer programmer managed by a project manager.

Today, designers are borrowing concepts from each course model. Online educational programs that utilize the best of all three will be the most successful.