The Content Delivery & Editing
The content of an e-Learning course is usually delivered by an expert author or compiled and extracted from text-books, magazines, articles, report & studies, etc. by an expert editor. It comes in form of written plain text.
It is crucial that the expert author/editor is aware of the purpose in advance – an e-Learning course will need a very clear and concisely structured content. The GIZ/ACWUA/ONEE-WANT courses on Organisational Development are based on a textbook by Nancy Barnes (the Water Impact Guidebook) and have been adapted for the e-Learning courses by bringing the content down to the basic elements.
The course «Sector Governance in Urban Sanitation» as another example was written by three different authors and has been re-structured, edited and enlarged by expert editors in order to provide a clear e-course structure.
In every case, the e-Learning course content should be supplemented with graphics (tables, diagrams, photos, videos), practical case studies and examples. Moreover, after every e-Learning course participants should have the opportunity to get involved into further development and modernisation of the course content - this can be done through cases and examples or results from working groups and assignments produced during the course.
One task of tutors is to actively ask course participants to provide additional material, documentations, case studies, etc. Course content generally needs to be revisited and updated regularly, the more if course evaluation results show the need for an update.
The Instructional Design & Authoring
In the initial project phase, it is important to decide on some instructional design guidelines for all modules to be developed.
The expert content of e-Learning courses needs to be adjusted to the media format/web format. Even if there is already a lot of material in written or even digital format, it needs adaptation. This is the task of the instructional designer/content developer together with the subject-matter expert(s).
E-Learning content needs to have a definite added value over paper-based training material. For example, multi-media can easily be included, as well as other web resources, elements initiating learners' communication or cooperation, etc.
It is easy to include photos, graphics, animated pictures, simulations, audio or video files, exercises and self-testing tools. These interactive elements are added value for the learners and can make learning fun, more learner-friendly, and enhance the process of acquiring new knowledge.
Generally, e-Learning modules are more learner-centred than traditional lectures. They enable the learners to make choices, for example to choose different media formats and learning pathways.
However, the level of interactivity depends on the media format and technology chosen, bandwidth, infrastructure and Internet connectivity of the learners and the institution.
A very important part of e-Learning is the constant guidance by an online-tutor who is not only available for subject-related questions.
He/she should be able to moderate live sessions and virtual working groups and evaluate assignments and contributions made by participants.
The most important task consists in tracking participants performance on a regular basis and in identifying possible constraints and problems even before the participant him/herself realises them. An e-Learning course is much less «personal» compared with face-to-face trainings, so a constant personal contact and motivation has to be provided by the tutor(s) for many of the participants.
…is tutoring offered in a format where the learner submits a question and the tutor responds at a later time. This is appropriate for a detailed review of writing tasks, for instance. The learner and the tutor need not be online at the same time.
Synchronous online tutoring
…involves a shared interface, where both tutor and learner (or group of learners) are online at the same time. It requires implementation of browser-based software. The ACWUA/GIZ online tutoring services use telephonic or VOIP (Voice over IP) communication and video communication with their webinars.