Testing Your Online Course: How to Evaluate Elearning Functionality before Launching
How does testing fit into elearning development?
It’s tempting to assume, when an elearning course has been created, that everything will just work. Advancing through the course will perform as expected; when questions are answered, the correct feedback will appear; completion will be properly registered with the user’s account.
Here are some things that I’ve seen go wrong:
- If a user advances to the next screen without waiting for the voice-over narration to finish, the previous screen’s narration will continue, even as narration on the next begins.
- The feedback for the incorrect response appears when the correct response is selected.
- When using a browser one version earlier than expected, the course doesn’t send completion to the learning management system.
- A video viewed in one browser is perfectly accessible, fully meeting WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards; the exact same video in the exact same course on a different browser is inaccessible.
- Tracking progress stops at slide 77. No matter how much further the user advances, if they exit the course, the course always resumes on slide 77.
At its heart, an online course is software, subject to the same problems that all software has.
That’s where testing your online course comes in. Once you realize that an online course is fundamentally a software program, you can treat it as such.
Try it in different browsers and see what happens. Test it with dummy users to make sure that it behaves appropriately in all circumstances. Become a “white-hat jerk,” and do all the things that someone might do just to mess with the course. And above all, record your tests, the results, and the fixes, for tracking on that project and for using on future projects (This kind of testing is critical in any elearning development project, but see my 2014 post, “Elearning for Outreach Purposes,” on how testing your online course facilitates engagement in non-required training).
One additional note:
It can be convenient, especially if you have a single person responsible for building courses, to ask that same person to test the course. Letting one person do everything runs the risk that that person, who knows how the course should operate, is blind to the problems that actually occur. Whenever possible, try to have someone other than the designer or developer test the course, bringing a fresh pair of eyes to the effort.
Until next time,
Microassist Senior Learning Architect
Be Confident Your Custom-Developed Elearning Works
Microassist’s custom elearning development teams have proven processes for testing your online courses before we hand them off for launch. To see where we can help support your organization’s custom training project needs, get in touch with us. We’d love to hear what your goals are and see if we can be an asset to your group.
Sign Up for More Learning and Development Insights
This commentary originally appeared in our Learning Dispatch newsletter. Use the on-page form to subscribe today for monthly learning insights, resources, and thought leadership for learning and development!
Contact our Learning Developers
Need to discuss developing e-learning? Creating curriculum for classroom training? Auditing and remediating e-learning for accessibility? Our learning developers would be glad to help.