Explore 8 essential phases of the e-learning content development process

Apr, 03, 2024
Senior Account Executive

Digital learning has long been a key tool for upskilling employees and informing customers in the business environment. Statistics confirm that 93% of global firms (Insights For Professionals “2023 Workplace Learning Trends Report”, Udemy Business, 2023) are switching to digital learning, as it is convenient, visual, and accessible. A short video or a colorful presentation is often more useful than a long lecture.

The challenge, however, is to develop an engaging e-learning course. This process involves many steps and substeps, which require a great deal of expertise to create engaging content.

If you want to create an e-learning course, you should at least have a general understanding of these 8 key stages in the e-learning content development process, and this article will help you with that. Let’s use Blue Carrot’s workflow as an example to help familiarize ourselves with these stages. 👇


1.  8 Steps in the e-learning content development process

2. Consider Blue Carrot your trusted partner

8 Steps in the e-learning content development process

1. Needs analysis

The process of e-learning content development starts with planning and analyzing the needs of the target audience. For the content to be effective and useful, you need to clearly define and understand what the goal and desired end result will be. Specifically, you need to answer the following key questions:

  • Who is the target audience, what do they want, and what is the best way to deliver content to them?
  • What is the purpose of e-learning content and what are you trying to accomplish with this course?
  • How do you measure the success of the content? What skills or information must be learned by the target audience to say their time wasn’t wasted?
  • Where will the e-learning content be posted? Will it be solely for internal use or for a wider external audience?

All these factors have a significant impact on the content and choice of medium. For example, an animated video that is designed for company newbies would have a less in-depth level of specific knowledge and expertise than a video designed for experienced employees. Audience analytics insights allow you to consider details like this and structure the foundation for further work.

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2. Learning design and course blueprint development

Once the target audience has been analyzed and clear goals have been defined, the next stage of the e-learning content creation process starts, namely curriculum design and course blueprint development. Using the analysis data, you can define clear learner engagement metrics for the success of the course. These will help determine the content structure and potential return on investment (ROI).

Next, subject matter experts (SMEs) start developing an outline for the course. This includes:

  • a brief overview of the lesson(s);
  • the number of guided/non-guided learning hours;
  • learning outcome(s);
  • a strategy for student success;
  • an assessment for learning (AFL) strategy;
  • other important criteria to help the audience understand the overall structure of the course.

Blue Carrot also makes use of AI authoring tools when developing the course outline. These tools enable us to collect and compile a large amount of data and quickly transform it into a short extract that will be extremely useful for further work.

For the course to be effective we rely on the knowledge of SMEs. SMEs are highly qualified specialists in their field; they are the main source of information and help to generate ideas for the development of the e-course. Finding such experts can be challenging, but Blue Carrot has established relationships with university departments, professors, industry leaders, and other niche specialists to ensure all the necessary expertise.

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After the SME approves the course outline and gives recommendations for improving it, we move on to the next and final stage of pre-production, which is developing detailed content and engaging content design for instructional e-learning.

This includes:

  • Development of individual training plans and interactive module creation based on SME recommendations.
  • Development of the course script, including its sections, what is to be presented in each slide, test or quiz content, animations, and simulations. The course scenario depends on its type: informational, training, or motivational, as well as on the level of complexity.
  • SME approval of the scenario.

Once we are sure that the course contains all the necessary information and will produce the desired results, we write the terms of reference for creating the assets that will be used in the course. The practical implementation of this assignment is done in the next stage, namely production.

3. Production

Now let’s break down the main steps of the e-learning content development process. At the production stage, the following types of content may be created:

  • animated videos;
  • AI videos;

  • live videos;

  • interactive learning objects;
  • virtual reality/Augmented reality (VR/AR) simulations;
  • games;
  • PDFs.

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👉 Blue Carrot specializes in creating animated videos that are often used in the development of e-learning content. The creation of this multimedia content consists of:

  1. creation of visual stylistics and dynamics;
  2. development of assets;
  3. animation & addition of sound effects.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these e-learning content development steps:

📌 Development of visual stylistics

First of all, the general appearance of the e-learning environments, level of detail, and other techniques must be decided. To help do this, artists and animators visualize their ideas in small pieces of future work, specifically style frames and animation samples, which will serve as a demonstration example and reference.

  • A style frame is a static image that shows the overall visual style of the video, its characters, the degree of detail, etc.
  • A sample animation is a small, few seconds long animated piece that demonstrates how the characters will move in the frame. Animation can be smoother or less smooth depending on the design vision.


📌 Development of assets

Next, artists must draw 2D pictures or 3D models, as well as backgrounds.

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📌 Animation

After all the visual assets are done, animation specialists put the assets into motion. This is quite a painstaking process, but with the right level of expertise and experience, the result can be quite amazing and often exceeds the wildest expectations.

 📌 Sound design

In parallel with the previous stage of the e-learning content development process, sound specialists work on the audio aspect so the course is visually appealing and has a good sound quality. This includes adding background music and sounds as well as voiceovers. Music and sounds are usually taken from stock banks. For voiceovers, we engage professional voice actors and carefully monitor their work.

4. Quality assurance (QA)

To guarantee the high quality of the final result, each element must be thoroughly checked for compliance with our quality standards. Quality control (QC) takes place during the entire process of e-learning content creation, but for better understanding within this article, we have made it a separate stage.

As mentioned earlier, the course outline is sent to an expert during the pre-production stage for approval. In addition, during this stage, the course is checked for the following:

  • adherence to the LD instructions;
  • grammar;
  • formatting;
  • punctuation;
  • syntax;
  • mistakes in translation/terminology;
  • possible misunderstandings or misinterpretations;
  • consistency;
  • correct file naming and location.

In the production phase, the quality assurance process includes the direct inspection of each created element using two different testing methods. Specifically, this includes:

  • checking the video to ensure that it has all the necessary information;
  • checking the assets for compliance with the specification and design principles;
  • checking the video voiceover to verify that it has the correct synchronization between the voice and the on-screen action.

Finally, when everything is ready, we do the final QA check. This includes a full inspection of the finished product by an SME. Only after we make sure that everything meets the TOR and that the course is ready, we send it to the client for approval. We also provide a comprehensive warranty so if any unexpected issues occur they will be quickly corrected.

5. Delivery

One of the important steps in e-learning content development is the delivery of the content to the client. At this stage, technical manipulations are carried out to ensure that the course is functioning properly. This includes:

  • converting and packaging raw files into content delivery formats aligned with clients’ LMS requirements (for example, SCORM 1.2);
  • sending videos, scripts, illustrations, and all other files to the client;
  • uploading the files for audience access.

All assets are transferred with full ownership rights and are fully owned by the client, according to the contract signed before starting the work.

6. Localization

Once the course has been created and is ready for the target audience, comes the localization phase. Localizing the course into different languages maximizes its audience, allowing the course to reach new markets, and increase course accessibility. This process is similar to content production and goes through similar stages, namely:

Pre-production. In collaboration with SMEs and professional linguists, we prepare glossaries with all the relevant terminology in both the source and target languages.
Preparation of media templates. If the content is to be localized, it should be created in such a way that videos, graphics, texts, and interactive learning objects (ILOs) can be changed freely, while maintaining the overall style.
Localization. This can be adapting language to fit a specific region (for example, the US or the UK) or the direct translation and a comprehensive re-design of localized content. At this stage, we also involve linguistic experts to ensure that the content is of excellent quality, following the linguistic and cultural differences of the target audience.
Evaluation. Next, all content is thoroughly checked for relevance and compliance with the project’s specific guidelines.
Delivery. Finally, the content is packaged in an approved format and shipped to the client.

We engage professional voice actors during localization activities and ensure that the text and lip sync match. Also, recently, several AI tools appear to be able to localize content quickly and efficiently. For example, having recorded a voiceover and a video in one language, they can be quickly localized with the help of AI, preserving the same voice and transforming the video sequence for the target language.

7. Feedback integration

The best edits are the ones that the target audience asks for. That’s why sometimes the process of creating e-learning content also includes a stage for collecting and analyzing feedback. Of course, during the e-learning development process, certain revisions are made based on feedback loops from the customer. However, this may not be enough, and to ensure the quality, a focus group may test the course.

The focus group goes through the course and gives their impressions and suggestions for improvements. The most successful ones are integrated into the content before it meets a wider audience. Sometimes content can even be finalized according to the wishes of real users who have taken the course if it is technically possible and budgeted to do so.

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8. Continuous course evaluation

The work on content does not end once it has been viewed by an audience. It’s crucial to monitor the effectiveness of the content and analyze audience interaction with it. For example, the following information can be collected and analyzed to improve course content:

  • Audience reach. Determine whether the actual number of users is in line with your expectations.
  • Average session time. How much time do users spend on the course? Do they complete it?
  • Drop-off points. Are there points at which most users drop out of the course and if so, why?
  • Successes. Which modules are performing the best in terms of audience engagement or learning?

Based on this data, the effectiveness of the content can be evaluated, and work can begin on a new iteration with these features in mind.

Consider Blue Carrot your trusted partner

👉 As you can see, all phases of the e-learning content development process require many experts in a wide variety of fields to work collaboratively. Blue Carrot has 10 years of experience working collaboratively and implementing adaptive learning technologies, with more than 300 satisfied clients. We take great care to ensure that the courses we create meet the client’s requirements and achieve the desired results. Our team of professionals is skilled in creating comprehensive courses that are engaging and informative, and that are tailored to your specific needs.

Our expertise in content development speaks for itself. Just take a look at our case studies and check out our e-learning content creation service offering to learn more. A great example of Blue Carrot’s expertise in the content development process for e-learning is the Course on Healthy Relationships project. Our team, in collaboration with dedicated Subject Matter Experts, meticulously crafted five hours of e-learning content. This included comprehensive audience research and rigorous testing with focus groups to ensure the final product met the highest standards. Our efforts resulted in two exhaustive audience research sessions, five dynamic e-learning hours, three distinct educational paths, and a total of 232 engaging interactive slides. This project went through all of the above e-learning content creation steps and in the end, we managed to create an excellent e-learning course that achieved its goals and left all the stakeholders satisfied.

animated images of man and woman

Contact us now and share your ideas. Our experts will help you evaluate the scope of work and together we will start your march to success.

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