Tips for design of elearning resources

I have just finished a review on online materials used for learning and teaching on programmes here at the Institute of Leadership. As a result I have collated some information for lecturers for design of elearning resources. I define an ‘eLearning Resource’ as a unit of digital content or material that may also incorporate a learning activity (Conole & Oliver, 2007). I am strongly influenced by the idea of reusability since my NDLR working days, so these tips aim to ensure that eLearning resources are transferable among programmes, modules and learning situations.

A model for Design of eLearning resources

ELearning resources can be embedded within workshops, lectures, flipped classrooms scenarios, student independent learning.
Tips for designing screencasts or podcasts

  • Length of podcast or screen cast: under 10 minutes*, ideally 5 or 8 minutes
  • Chop p topics into bite sized chunks
  • Ensure the time of podcast/screencast is obvious to the learner
  • Check sound quality – some desktop computers and microphones can cause noise interference, please test.
  • Release podcasts to students one at one time: drip feed them throughout the module/programme
  • Think about accessibility (visually impaired learners etc). Provide a transcript of any audio narration
  • Ensuring reusability across programme: avoid use of dates or context specific descriptions

*According to On Tam (2012) students feedback reported that optimal length of an educational podcast was less than 10 minutes. Seery (2011) created 5 minute pre-lecture resources (screencasts) to introduce new topics of learning to learners. These resources also incorporated quizzes used for reinforcement of learning

Clarke & Mayer guidelines for multimedia design

  • Learners learn better from graphics and text rather than from text alone
  • Words that support a graphic should be presented through audio narration rather than onscreen text to reduce overload in the pictorial channel of the learner
  • Visuals are to be explained with words in audio or text, and not both,
  • Audio and text should not be duplicated
  • Minimise unnecessary use of text or images: any material that does not directly support the instructional goal inhibits learning.

Tools for Podcasting/ Screencasting

  • Podcasting tool: Audacity (free)
  • Screencasting: Camtasia (educational licence).
  • ELearning development: (articulate (educational licence)

Integrating interactivity into eLearning resources

To keep learners engaged ensure that eLearning resources are relevant and concise. We can integrate various types of activities into eLearning resources or we can place the eLearning resources within a framework of activity that students engage with.

Integrating activities within the eLearning resource

  • Short quizzes (reinforcement of learning)
  • Suitable Feedback provided for answers given
  • Matching activities
  • Instead of creating a linear path of information, look for ways to let the learner find information or access it in different ways. Give them some control over how they choose to get the information. (eLearning resources developed with Articulate enables learner to navigate an eLearning resource)

Embedding eLearning resources into student activity frameworks

  • Integrated within flipped classroom strategy: Pre-lecture resource followed by workshop/group work.
  • Integrated into online activity: Students engage with eLearning resource and then contribute to online discussion forums, moderator provides trigger questions

The design and development of eLearning resources can be supported using a model devised by Gagné: Nine Events of Instruction. This model can be used as a guide or checklist when designing and developing screencasts, podcasts, webpages for other eLearning resources.

Gagne’s 9 Events of Instruction

  1. Gain attention
  2. Inform learners of objectives
  3. Stimulate recall of prior learning
  4. Present the content
  5. Provide “learning guidance”
  6. Elicit performance (practice).
  7. Provide feedback
  8. Assess performance
  9. Enhance retention and transfer to the job

Acquiring copyright free images for online learning resources

Courtesy of @Clare_Gormley 

Note that photos/images from free sites may need to be attributed, so please follow licensing instructions in all cases.:

Microsoft Office Online ( ).
Dreamstime (
Flickr ( Be sure to use the Advanced Search option to search for Creative Commons licensed content only. Another great resource is, a search engine devoted to Creative Commons licensed content.
Stockxchng: ( )
Create your own photo stock (
Source icons – Using small and simple pictures to complement text can sometimes be highly effective. You’ll find a big selection of icon resources here:
Feel free to use the extensive annotation features of Articulate to include visual pointers/borders/shadows for your graphics. Find out more about these and other useful tools via the Articulate tutorials at:

eLearning Toolkit

Lastly Clare Gormley in conjunction with the Adult & Continuing Education Office, NUI Galway, created an eLearning Toolkit resource; this resource is a great to find out how you can develop quality eLearning materials.


Clarke, R.C, Mayer, R. (2008) E-Learning and the Science of Instruction, 2nd ed. San Francisco:Pfeiffer

Conole, G & Oliver, M. (2007) Contemporary perspectives in e-learning research : themes, methods, and impact on practice, Routledge.

On Tam, C. (2012) The effectiveness of educational podcasts for teaching music and visual arts in higher education. Research in Learning Technology. Vol. 20.

Riley, F (200) RLO Frequently Asked Questions. Educational Technology for Healthcare Education. Retrieved from 17th July 2013.

Seery, M., Donnelly, R. (2011) The implementation of pre-lecture resources to reduce in-class cognitive load: A case study for higher education chemistry. British Journal of Educational Technology. Vol 43: 4, 667–677.

University of Arizona (2010) Faculty Podcasting Tip Sheet. Retrieved from 17 July 2013

The Rapid eLearning Blog (2012) How to Create Interactive E-Learning retrieved from 17 July 2013


About Muireann O'Keeffe

I am an educational developer currently working at DCU. I have a passion for researching and evaluating technology that can support and enhance learning. In the past I have taught on Masters programmes (Msc Applied elearning & Postgraduate Diploma in Third level Learning and Teaching) as well as Leadership development programmes.
This entry was posted in curriculum, design, digital, education, elearning, learning, technology, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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