Efficient course authoring: From preset themes to responsive courses

Efficient processes are worth their weight in gold, especially for busy learning teams with limited resources and plenty of eLearning authoring on their to-do lists.

Most L&D professionals experienced an increased workload between mid-2022 and mid-2023. At the same time, a survey sponsored by our sister company, Bridge, found that approximately half of HR professionals expect to spend around $500 per employee on training technologies over the next two years.

Put together, these insights suggest that L&D professionals need to find more time to produce training while maximizing and justifying their budgets—all without a drop in content quality!

Balancing these competing demands might feel a little daunting, but there are plenty of opportunities for adding a touch of efficiency to your course authoring journey. Whether you’re creating, reviewing, or distributing your content, the right tools will allow you to reduce your authoring time while maintaining the high standards that keep your learners coming back for more.

So, what authoring tool features should you prioritize when you’re on the hunt for the most efficient process? Let’s find out.

Look for these 3 time-saving authoring capabilities

If your course designers need to create expertly authored learning content at scale, there’s no need to start every course from scratch. Understanding which features or interactions are worth replicating isn’t about taking shortcuts—it’s about making the savvy economical moves that allow your busy learning team to make the absolute most out of their time and budget.

So, how can authoring tools help with this? There are certainly a few essentials that you can expect your authoring tool to offer, like the ability to copy and paste individual screens or entire courses. Or, if you’re just starting out, the right platform will provide templates that take care of screen layout for you.

These features are great for quickly conjuring up individual courses, but they’re just the basics. The real question is: how do you maintain that efficiency-first mindset when you’re creating content at scale? How do you make sure your time isn’t swallowed up by endlessly configuring the themes, device-friendly characteristics, and key interactions that make up your course library?

Well, you can start by keeping an eye out for the following three features.

Feature 1) Preset visual themes

If your authoring tool comes equipped with a fully functioning theme library, the efficiency gains speak for themselves. Preset themes save you the trouble of customizing every screen of every course—and, for larger organizations, this can lift course designers’ burdens across hundreds of resources. Plus, if your platform allows you to apply your brand’s unique colors and logo, you’ll be left with courses that are as distinct as they are convenient.

Here’s the important thing: letting your authoring tool take care of key design decisions is just as much about course quality as it’s about efficiency. This isn’t an either/or scenario.

After all, when you leave visual elements to a changing roster of course designers who sometimes make ad hoc decisions, you’ll inevitably encounter design deviations from one course to the next. Putting it in the hands of your authoring tool gives you the peace of mind that comes hand-in-hand with a highly consistent template.

When it comes to the look and feel of your courses, efficiency gains like this don’t result in a bare-bones or purely functional design. Instead, you’ll be left with a professional and dependably on-brand collection of courses put together in the blink of an eye.

Get the lowdown on why your visual identity matters:

Better branding: 8 pointers for your eLearning courses

Feature 2) Question banks

The look of your courses is half the battle—but the other half involves finding ways to efficiently populate those courses with meaningful and memorable interactions.

Again, this isn’t about looking for shortcuts that might compromise the quality or the integrity of your learning material. It’s about being smart with your interactions and drawing on the right resources to rapidly populate them with useful content.

Take assessments, for example. Assessments are valuable interactions, and they have a proven history of enhancing learning outcomes by encouraging learners to retrieve information. They’re a sophisticated learning resource and they’re often tied to specific subject matter, so it’s tempting to assume that they demand a fair amount of time and energy to get right—but that’s where question banks come in.

Question banks are a way to store a potentially huge range of questions categorized by subject matter. Once you’ve set up your question banks, you’ll be able to rapidly generate top-tier assessments that draw from the relevant bank. It’s a highly efficient mechanism for creating the kind of interaction that, without the right tools to hand, could easily eat away at your time-pressed designers’ busy schedules.

As with visual themes, it’s important to note that this move toward efficiency actually improves the quality of your learning content. If your authoring platform can randomize the selection of questions pulled from a given question bank, you’ll be the proud owner of an assessment brimming with integrity. Why? Because your learners won’t be able to memorize the order or content of your quiz and spread it around to their colleagues.

Feature 3) One-size-fits-all course responsiveness

Producing good interactions with speed and flair is essential—but these efficiency gains will be undermined if your assessments don’t operate properly on different devices. Limiting learner access to your courses creates a barrier between your people and your content.

PwC reports that employees who aren’t quick to prioritize and absorb new skills will struggle to adapt in a world of growing skills gaps, so the aim of the game is to make your content as available as you can.

One of the best ways to do that is to allow learners to access learning content on the device of their choice. However, when you’re in full efficiency mode, the last thing you’ll want to do is create multiple versions of your eLearning courses for every screen size.

That’s why you’ll want a tool that provides automatically responsive and adaptive content. These characteristics will ensure that your content is consistently attractive while your interactions remain appropriately laid out. Crucially, you’ll want to achieve this without your course designers lifting a finger, allowing them to achieve effortless device agnosticism.

About the author: Simon Waldram

As Product Manager at Gomo, I’m passionate about delivering value at every interaction and to increase sustainable proven value for our customers and business.

I have extensive experience of working within both the commercial and educational sectors, and approach all projects with a strategic mind.

This combination of education and commercial experience has enabled me to stay at the leading edge of emerging technologies to ensure that customers are provided with a framework for success.

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