Before you send your eLearning on for a quality review, how well do you test it yourself? A Quality Assurance (QA) self-check may seem like an obvious task, but some people pass on their eLearning courses for QA when the work is less than stellar. Within a few minutes, the reviewer or tester can tell it hasn’t been checked for quality and consistency.
Don’t Slow Down Production
Failure to do a self-check slows down the development process because it creates the need for additional cycles of quality review and revisions. It costs time, effort, and money to send out an unfinished product for quality testing. And it can generate negative feelings on the part of the tester. Quality reviewers expect to receive a course that is in very good shape.
I’ll be the first to admit that testing gets old quickly. How many times can you look at the same screens before you feel like you’re going crazy? That’s when it’s time to take a short break and get yourself motivated. Remember that this is an important part of the process.
If you build several hours or a full day of self-testing and revision time into your schedule, it should actually shorten development time. Get your own work as clean as you can before sending it on. Here’s how.
1. Make a Test Plan
For your test plan, think through the course’s structure and the potential paths that a learner may take. Then list all the test paths you will take through a course. If your course has a simple structure, your plan may consist of something like this:
- Run through and select every correct response
- Run through and select every incorrect response
- Run through the course using the Back button
- Return to the menu at different points during the course and re-start
- Select all glossary terms and hyperlinks
- Select every selectable object
- Attempt to move ahead before completing all interactions
If your course has a complex structure, the test plan could be extremely complex depending on how many potential paths there are. You will need to check each possible navigation path. The test plan might consist of this for the first scenario:
- Run through Scenario 1, Choice 1 and go down that path
- Run through Scenario 1, Choice 1 using the Back button
- Run through Scenario 1, Choice 2 and go down that path
- Run through Scenario 1, Choice 2 using the Back button
- Run through Scenario 1, Choice 3 and go down that path
- Run through Scenario 1, Choice 3 using the Back button
- Quit early and return to the menu, restart
- Select every selectable object
2. Use a Review Form
Download the test form below or create your own to ensure that none of the issues you find will slip through the cracks. To make your own, create a table with four columns. Use the first column to enter the identifying screen; the second to note the the issue and how it occurs; the third to check off when you’ve made the revision (doesn’t that feel good?); and the last to check off that you tested it and it really was fixed. Click the image below to download this form.
3. Publish with Identifiers
Now you’re ready to start testing. Make it easy on yourself by publishing with unique screen identifiers , as shown on the right. For example, if your finished product will not have a list of screens in a side menu, create a menu just for testing purposes so that you can quickly identify the screen that has a problem. Or put in a temporary identifier at the top or bottom of each slide. You may find that using an ordered list of number identifiers for each screen is the easiest and quickest approach.
4. Run Your Test Plan
Now you’re ready to run your test plan. Do this at a time of day when you can be very attentive to details. If your brain feels foggy, do what it takes to get more alert (caffeine, exercise, fresh air, etc.). Keep working through every step of the plan and write down all the issues you find, from a typo to a programming error. Don’t skip any of the paths. If an issue stops the program from working, you’ll need to fix that before continuing. Some typical things to look for include:
- Spelling errors
- Awkward or unclear writing
- Graphics with the wrong aspect ratio (people look like a reflection in a fun house mirror)
- Graphics with the wrong resolution (they look pixelated or fuzzy)
- Graphics that are misaligned
- Graphics that don’t adhere to the Visual Style Guide
- Text that is difficult to read
- Errors in labeling
- Messages pop up at the wrong time
- Interactions not working properly
- Navigation goes to the wrong screen
- Feedback is not appropriate for the selection made
- Test is scored incorrectly
5. Fix It
Make the necessary fixes to the course and check off each one as it is completed. Then do another quality check to ensure every single issue has been fixed and is no longer evident when tested.
6. Rinse and Repeat
Go through the test/revise cycle as long as it takes to get your course into good shape. When it is on solid ground, you’ll be ready to send it onward. Then you can feel confident that you’ve sent out a clean version that won’t take long to test and most likely, the revisions will be minor.