Top 3 Areas to Check When Reviewing an E-Learning Course
College English majors will admit—some more boastfully or shamefully than others—that we have some OCD tendencies. We’re the ones who cringe at misspellings on restaurant and gas station marquees. We force ourselves to be hip and modern by using shortcuts while texting. (Just typing “C u l8r” makes my stomach turn.) We’re the ones whose eyes bulge when we read a personal email that is one long, continuous sentence. Our love of having everything arranged neatly and correctly can, at times, make us social pariahs. I’ll never forget the first time my younger brother asked me to proofread something for him. I honestly thought my sea of red ink was helpful, but his open mouth and incredulous stare gave me the impression he thought otherwise.
This freakish attention to detail is also a blessing. As a production coordinator for Artisan, one of my jobs is to review projects during the development phase to ensure that they are not only error free but also functional and aesthetically pleasing. The good news is that even if you aren’t that person who spots typos on menus at restaurants, you can still take a methodical approach to reviewing a course.
When reviewing an e-learning project, be sure to check three key areas. If you are still trying to build up your review “muscles,” do a separate pass through the course for each one:
1. Grammar and Spelling
Nothing screams unprofessional like a glaring grammatical or spelling error. Carefully proofreading a project’s storyboards eliminates most errors, but it’s still a good idea to look for issues that might have slipped through the cracks. If you are working with an external client, be sure to consult their style guide if they have one, as that would trump the language guidelines you might normally use.
When reviewing a course, it’s crucial to check all of the buttons, links, and pop-ups to ensure they are functioning properly. This includes making sure every Replay and Next button works. (It only takes one inactive Next button to bring a user’s progress to a screeching halt.) Remember to test any hyperlinks to be sure they don’t result in the much-maligned “This page cannot be displayed” message when clicked. Audio is another big-ticket item to check. Are there any blips or volume issues? Do embedded videos and audio pop-ups play correctly?
Although I don’t claim to have an eye for design, I do have an instinct about what looks good and what doesn’t. The same is true for most people. You can probably tell if a screen looks too crowded or if there is too much white space. It’s also easy to see if text runs into an image or if a heavy concentration of text needs to be spaced out a bit to make it easier on the eyes. You don’t have to be the graphic designer and explain how to fix it—you just need to be able to point out that it isn’t quite right. Another item to check is consistency. Are bullets single-spaced on one slide but double-spaced on the next? Is the same font used throughout the course? These sound like minor details, but eliminating inconsistencies gives projects a cleaner, more polished look.
If you aren’t sure about a certain grammar rule or how a button supposed to operate, adopt a “When in doubt, point it out” approach. This approach helps me because sometimes it’s tricky to gauge whether an item in question actually needs to be fixed and because the perfectionist in me can’t stand the thought of someone finding an issue and asking me why I didn’t make note of it.
In the end, it all boils down to two things: a) making the client happy; and b) keeping a professional reputation intact. The last thing anyone wants is to lose street “cred” because of a minor, easy-to-fix mistake. Besides, you never know when one of your users is an eagle-eyed, nauseating English major like me!