6 Common Mistakes That Impede Your eLearning Template Reusability
The first template you ever used was probably a stencil in preschool. It helped you trace shapes, numbers, and alphabet characters with relative accuracy. eLearning templates are similar. Think of it like a predesigned PowerPoint deck, but more complex. The template creates a framework, ready for you to plug in your content. However, if you design your template wrong, it could end up wasting time for you. What are some of the culprits you should avoid to make your template more effective? Here are 6 notable mistakes that impact the reusability of eLearning templates.
1. Infrequent Upgrades
A lot of templates are designed via the in-house LMS. It’s the tool most often used to develop and deploy training programs, so having a predesigned outline is helpful. However, an LMS should be upgraded regularly to keep it in working order, and to plug vulnerabilities. That said, if you upgrade the LMS but don’t adjust the template, it may be incompatible. And because you probably don’t revisit your course template until you need it, you may not realize it’s no longer valid. Get into the habit of using a checklist for every upgrade. It will remind you to update related elements when you’re maintaining the LMS. “Related elements” here include any external product built off the LMS, such as eLearning templates.
2. Using The Wrong Software
What did you use to develop the template, to begin with, and is there a better option? It could be an analog storyboard with sketches on a whiteboard. It was aimed at giving you an overall structural guideline. Or maybe you developed an entire digital stencil using authoring tools. That said, template software isn’t always suitable for the course itself. Suppose you want to include updated tech elements your template maker doesn’t support. For example, you may have used a program that has no ability to embed video or audio. When you’re designing the template, plan ahead including all the bits and bobs you might need. This may include streaming options, so you can link live video/audio to your course or auto-translate modules.
3. Limited Plug-Ins
When you “sublet” your URL by purchasing from a web-host reseller, for example, you save money. You also have a data cap. Similarly, certain templates are limited in the number of features they can support. Maybe it has pre-set storage or can only hold a limited amount of data. Maybe the column size, screen configuration, or page layout is restricted. So, when you want to make course adjustments that fall outside that window, you’re stuck. To resolve this, ensure the template itself is flexible. It should allow you to add pages and feeds as your training needs shift. It should also be compatible with popular eLearning add-ons.
4. Wrong Criteria
Unfortunately, we are sometimes blinded by hype. We may build a template using all the eLearning buzzwords. Interactive. Tech-oriented. Virtual reality. Simulation. But out of context, these terms don’t mean anything. So, if you focused, for example, on a template that can plug into video games to facilitate role-play assignments, that’s fine. But if in the process you omitted key elements like keyword searchability or JIT modules, your template can’t be reused. Or maybe you included such a limited palette that it can’t sustain your rebranded logo, look, and feel. Start with a list of essential functionalities and code those in first. Then you can add your preferred bells and whistles.
5. Lack Of Feedback
The average eLearning course is self-directed. Trainees don’t have a “teacher” though they might have an in-course guide or chatbot. In the absence of an instructor to answer their questions, the feedback loop becomes essential. Trainees need a way to get in touch with course developers. This could be direct feedback via chat, email, or even links to social media groups that facilitate peer-based feedback. Or it could be automated analytics that collates student data. If your template doesn’t have these options built in, any course developed from it will be inadequate. It will feel functionally and structurally incomplete.
6. Not Getting Team Input
You probably aren’t going to be the only one using the template. And one of the most common mistakes that impact the reusability of eLearning templates is forgetting about team feedback. You need to make sure everyone has their say when it comes to designing the layout. For example, they must all have the opportunity to specify which placeholders go where and how you’re going to incorporate the thematic elements. In fact, it’s wise to host a meeting beforehand to gather everyone’s opinion and create a style guide for the entire project. That includes the template development phase. A style guide ensures that your team understands the tone, aesthetics, and other key aspects of the eLearning course. They may find it challenging to reuse the template if it doesn’t suit their needs now, let alone in the future.
Templates are intended to make your work-life easier. They’re the go-to labor-saving device of the eLearning world. But they only work if they can be quickly, effectively, and reliably deployed. What are some of the barriers to ease of reuse? Inadequate updates, inappropriate software, data limits, incompatibility with add-ons are all pain points. It’s also a problem if there are no feedback modules, or if you used the wrong criteria to design the template. Do your research and ensure your template offers consistency, convenience, and the ability to be reused for a different subject base.
Templates for eLearning courses aren’t the only reusable layouts to consider. They can also help you design interactive training tools without having to start from the ground up. This post features tips to use question templates to increase the effectiveness of your branching scenarios in online training.