Whether it’s for industry, education or personal development, online learning and eLearning courses and assessments have become a common practice for most of us.
Here at Zoonou, we have worked with a large range of digital learning and EdTech organisations across a broad selection of markets and sectors. The educational technology sector is in fact one of the fastest growing in the UK and “is expected to reach £3.4bn by 2021” (Education Technology).
QA is typically provided at two levels. In the first instance, performance, security and system testing of an LMS (Learning Management System) is essential, be that an inhouse developed proprietary application, or an integrated selection of existing tool components.
Alongside LMS testing, QA needs to be carried out for individual modules and course content, to ensure that the experience delivered to the learner is functional, accessible, consistent and built to the highest standard.
In this article we’re going to focus on the module and content QA. Courses can be vast, but modules are more easily understood and tackled when broken down into key areas to test. We’d like to share just a few of the aspects of testing that we feel are important for successful QA of eLearning courses.
At the core of everything, the module navigation is a vital component. During the learning process, unexpected events or distractions may occur, and users may have to pause and restart screens or whole modules at any time. Whatever it may be: Can all modules be controlled as expected by learners?
In addition to this, the actual module structure should be checked. Do modules appear in the expected order? Can the user bypass mandatory information or screens? Progress by learners is usually visually indicated and tracked and should always accurately reflect a user’s journey.
Menus & Features
Hand-in-hand with the navigation of course modules, the core navigational menu and any additional features that are available should also be investigated. Can users select menu shortcuts? Are there any ‘Help’ sections or tooltips?
Users will all have different needs and preferences, and it is advised to look at eLearning modules from various points of view. Can animations be turned on/off? Can text speed and sizing be adjusted? Can narration subtitles be viewed?
A simple copy error or spelling mistake can undermine the trust in even the highest quality learning content. Copy checks for correct spelling and grammar are essential for any text presented in eLearning modules.
Modules will often contain audio narration or additional sound effects to engage users while learning. Audio should be clear and understandable, delivering the expected information, with correct pronunciations and sensible pauses and timings. This is best achieved by putting yourself in the mindset of a learner. Can I absorb this information from what I am hearing?
From an accessibility perspective, it may be essential that all course content can be received via the audio narration.
With a functional view to audio, checks should be conducted to ensure it is of a high quality and that the timings match with the display of content on screen.
Animation and Imagery
To break up solid blocks of informational text and provide visual aids for learners, modules will often include supporting images and animations to enhance the learning experience. With this, comes a number of things to keep an eye on: Are the images/animations sharp and clear? Are they positioned correctly? Are the animations synchronised with text and audio queues?
Assessments and Metrics
If an eLearning course includes an assessment for learners to take, it sparks some additional thoughts and questions to consider. Can combinations of PASS and FAIL answers be inputted? Can questions be skipped? Are results and outcomes accurate?
For any metrics displayed, such as a user’s final result, an accurate percentage or scoring should always be returned to the user and reported to the LMS.
Finally, accessibility is critical in the education sector, so courses may also need to be tested for compliance with WCAG standards and with a range of assistive technologies to ensure they can be accessed by users with various disabilities.
We hope this has provided a useful summary for some of the important tests to consider in the QA process for any eLearning course. In future articles we’ll be exploring digital learning further including test considerations for LMS applications, so please do check back soon.
If you’d like to discuss testing for eLearning, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our team will get back to you. Please see our eLearning and Education page for more information on the services we provide. If you’d like to get in touch about anything else, please head over to our Contact page.