In recent years, eLearning development has shifted from the traditional ADDIE development process to agile development. As a result, we must also change our eLearning quality assurance (QA) process, in order to improve quality and speed up development.
As an eLearning professional, you understand how to create engaging, informative courses for learners, but the QA process might be new or cumbersome. To help, let’s explore how to conduct eLearning QA testing that enables you to create and deliver excellent online courses.
Agile eLearning Development
Agility is defined as the ability to respond quickly to change. Similarly, agile design enables fast change during a development process. Agile development is widely used in product and software development and is now making its way into eLearning development. With cross-skilled teams and an iterative development methodology, agile eLearning development allows for faster and better modifications of ideas to improve the final product.
With agile development, learning and development (L&D) teams produce small chunks of content for review within the team, by the leader and/or by the client to make sure they are on the right track. This process enhances the overall project development life cycle, even with multiple iterations of the product. With its “fail fast and improve faster” approach, agile development gives L&D teams the opportunity to build innovative solutions that solve business problems.
With many checks throughout the eLearning content development cycle, the agile approach makes it easier to test content quality at multiple stages of development. By making agile methods part of your eLearning development process, you will speed up both quality assurance and course creation.
Conduct Thorough QA Testing Throughout the Project Life Cycle
QA testing is the process of reviewing your eLearning course to identify any outstanding errors, typos or other glitches that you need to fix before delivering the course. One of the keys to improving your eLearning QA process is to test the modules as they are completed rather than waiting for the completion of the entire course. QA testing reveals bugs early in the process, giving the teams time to work the kinks out sooner.
QA testing is based on the agile development principle of developing, testing and delivering small chunks of content. Continuous eLearning testing helps everyone in the team stay in sync and provides enough time to fix errors and optimize content.
The quality assurance testing process might become a complicated one if you don’t clarify which type of feedback you’re looking for at each phase. Conducting QA tests throughout the project development life cycle enables you to discuss challenges and resolve them, but if you aren’t clear on expectations, it can make the feedback management process go in circles.
For example, suppose your reviewers do not understand that they need to nail down the content in the first development phase. In that case, they might continue to give you feedback on the visuals and designs throughout the course creation process. If you must keep editing the content in subsequent development stages, it could delay course delivery.
Make Every Stakeholder Part of the QA Process
The QA testing process needs patience, an eye for details and more than one person. No single person can complete a full QA of the content and be perfectly confident that he or she caught every bug and every issue. Therefore, it is a good idea to include all internal team members in the QA process from the beginning of the project.
Internal team members will be as outspoken as — or more outspoken than — your clients. And, because they know the complete content roadmap, they can point out even the smallest of bugs. A project development team includes multiple subject matter experts (SMEs) and stakeholders including the training manager, designers, developer, animator and audio artists. Asking each team member to do at least the first round of QA will make the process take longer, but the quality of your content could touch 99% accuracy.
External stakeholders, on the other hand, include clients, guests and even a small group of learners who will benefit from the course.
Make It Easier for All Stakeholders to Create Reviews and Track Bugs
The best way to involve all stakeholders in QA is to make it easy for them to share feedback and mark bugs. As the course designer, you know what needs to be tested, but your course reviewers might not. Be sure to give them tips about the type of feedback you’re looking for in each review cycle and how to give that feedback.
What happens if your stakeholders have different views on necessary changes? Where and how should they share and discuss those differences? Managing feedback from multiple stakeholders, in different ways, in various systems, can be daunting. Provide a clear overview of how the review will work before the project commences. This way, you can collect feedback, show stakeholders the newest iteration and manage resolved comments after making modifications.
Also, try not to add more members to the project review cycle. Adding new stakeholders will result in more iteration requests and more explanations on how you are managing the project, what is being finalized and who is responsible for what. Instead, include all stakeholders from the beginning of the process, even if they are not working on content development.
To clearly communication to the content review cycle process, discuss these four questions, and develop a communication plan based on the answers:
- What steps are part of the review process?
- Who are the key stakeholders involved?
- How much time is needed for review?
- Which changes are not included in the scope and would incur additional costs?
To be able to achieve the most out of your eLearning course review process, consider using an all-in-one visual review and bug-tracking tool that enables all stakeholders to collaborate; share feedback; and create, prioritize and assign tasks.
Prioritize and Organize Issues to Improve Productivity
Prioritizing and organizing issues is essential for improving team productivity. Not everything is important, and not every important thing is urgent. Say, for example, your team is currently reviewing a storyboard. Their feedback should be about content, not graphic design. When they’re reviewing a prototype, their opinions should be about functionality and design.
Focus on your course itself at every stage of the process, answering questions like these:
- What needs to happen when?
- What will bring more value to the business and, therefore, should be handled first?
- What do our clients want us to deliver first?
Every learner wants to learn and develop his or her skill set. By implementing these five tips in your eLearning quality assurance process, you will be able to create engaging online courses.