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Tim Cliffe - Blog

Testing e-Learning Templates Is Not Simply Adding Text And Media

01 Target Audience

(01.1) Anyone involved in e-Learning template commissioning, Instructional Design, and related roles.

02 Executive Summary

(02.1) Testing e-learning templates, like any software, is not simply a matter of adding text and media. Few clients understand this, so your first task is to explain what is involved.

 

(02.2) For the purposes of testing, each template requires the creation of a number of matrices. Once created, each matrix must be systematically completed, following the testing of each identified element.

 

(02.3) The process is repeated for each template, finally giving a series of results, for each identified element, within each template.

03 Structure of This Article

  • (04) Terminology
  • (05) Introduction
  • (06) Understanding What the Client may not
  • (07) Template Testing
  • (08) Conclusion

04 Terminology

(04.1) Preview Mode - Refers to the functionality within e-learning development software that provides a display of the content, as it will be seen in the finished resource.

 

(04.2) S A - Abbreviation for Submit (button) Active.

05 Introduction

Image of an e-learning multiple-choice question.

 

(05.1) As any software tester will tell you, testing e-learning templates, like any software, is not just a matter (in this case) of adding text and media.

 

(05.3) The simple fact is, very few, if any, clients understand what is being asked when they say…

 

(05.4) “I will send you some content, and I want you to use it to test our new e-learning templates, and report on the results. Eight hours will be more than enough, won’t it? Our non-instructional designers have picked-it-up really quickly, it's very straight-forward to use.”

 

(05.5) The alarm bells are ringing already! So, how do you deal with this?

06 Understanding What the Client may not

(06.1) The client may not understand:
  1. Template testing is not simply a matter of adding text and media;
  2. The value you bring as a professional. What understanding have 'non-instructional designers' regarding the practices and methods of instructional design, and related activities?;
  3. Templates being straightforward to use has relatively little bearing on what is involved in testing such templates.
(06.2) The first thing you must do, before entering into such an activity, is ensure the client has some appreciation of:
  • What is involved in template testing;
  • The value you bring as a professional.
(06.3) In the case of the quoted client, and reading between the lines, It may be appropriate for someone of seniority to discuss with the client their apprehensions regarding cost/budget.

 

(06.4) Having covered the above two points, the issue raised by 06.1.3, above, should be clarified.

07 Template Testing

Image of the word MATRIX displayed as a matrix.

 

(07.1) The process involved with template testing is not complex, but requires structure, and an ability to execute repetitive tasks. An overview is given below, together with an example.

(07.1) Step 1

(07.1.1) Each template will require the creation of a number of matrices. The number will be determined by the complexity of the template.

(07.2) Step 2

(07.2.1) Each matrix is completed by recording:
  1. The antecedents, i.e., what you did, or happened, immediately before the test was applied;
  2. A description of the test;
  3. The consequences, i.e., what happened immediately after the test was applied.
(07.2.2) For those of you with a background in ‘traditional education’, you may recognise the above as the ABC Model for Behaviour Analysis (aka Behaviour Management). That is, Antecedents – Behaviour – Consequences.

 

(07.2.3) The analogy is logical in that, when testing templates, you are analysing template behaviour under various circumstances, and seeking to understand what influences that behaviour, and what results.

 

(07.2.4) However, unlike seeking to understand the behaviour of people, the purpose of testing templates is ultimately to ‘break’ them. The logic being, if you have systematically tried to ‘break’ the templates and failed, the templates are robust and fit for purpose. Of course, this argument is only sound, if the testing is rigorous, and assumes nothing.

(07.3) Step 3

(07.3.1) Results of the template test are summarised by reporting those elements failing to give the expected outcome(s). All matrices should be included as appendices to substantiate your report.

(07.4) Example

(07.4.1) Imagine you are testing an e-Learning template of a Multiple-Choice Question (MCQ), giving three distractors (incorrect answers), one correct answer, and no media (i,e.. No images, audio, or video).

 

(07.4.2) A simplified matrix, for testing the MCQ, could comprise the following.

 

Testing Matrix: MCQ - 1 correct answer - 3 Distractors - 0 Media

 

Element Tested Antecedent Test Applied Consequences
Empty template. None. None. None.
1st text element. None. Add text and save. Saved 1.
1st text element. Saved 1. Preview Mode (PM). Display 1.
2nd text element. Saved 1. Add text and save. Saved 1-2.
2nd text element. Saved 1-2. PM. Display 1-2.
3rd text element. Saved 1-2. Add text and save. Saved 1-3.
3rd text element. Saved 1-3. PM. Display 1-3.
4th text element. Saved 1-3. Add text and save. Saved 1-4.
4th text element. Saved 1-4. PM. Display 1-4.
No answer selected. Display 1-5. Submit MCQ PM. Submit inactive.
1 answer selected. Display 1-5. 1 Checked. Last Checked S A.
2 answers selected. Display 1-5. 1 Checked. Last Checked S A.
3 answers selected. Display 1-5. 1 Checked. Last Checked S A.
4 answers selected. Display 1-5. 1 Checked. Last Checked S A.

 

(07.4.3) The matrix would continue with the individual selection of each incorrect answer, and the correct answer, together with the testing of navigation to the next and previous ‘screens’.

 

(07.4.4) The reasoning in support of such a meticulous approach is that if, for example, all the text elements were completed, and then saved, it is possible to miss any ‘bugs’ that may exist when using each text element individually. It can be argued, each text element will use the same programmatic routine, however, this makes the assumption, ‘nothing can possibly go wrong’, which is not necessarily valid.

 

(07.4.5) This matrix does not include the testing of, for example, supportive elements within the ‘screen’, such as the Help function, Menu, Resources, and so on. Depending on the complexity of the Graphical User Interface, such testing may best be recorded in a dedicated matrix.

08 Conclusion

(08.1) It is worth noting, the testing described above is functionality testing. Comprehensive testing will include measures against Authoring Standards; Graphical, Animation, and Video Standards. Other standards may include: Accessibility; Multi-device Rendering; Third Party Standards. Perhaps the most important of all, is testing against the Principles of Multimedia Learning (see The Importance of Research in Instructional Design, Section 5).

 

(08.2) It is not difficult to imagine the time and discipline required to complete a test of a suite of e-Learning templates, and report on the findings, even if everything functions as expected.

 

(08.3) The time required to complete the testing will increase significantly, as the number of ‘bugs’ detected increases.

 

(08.3) The primary testing of e-Learning templates is, in my experience, undertaken by individuals involved in the programming of those templates. However, if you find yourself in this position, ensure your client understands what is involved.

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Any part, or all, of this article may be linked-to or copied for non-commercial purposes. Any linked or copied content to include the following...

 

Testing e-Learning Templates Is Not Simply Adding Text And Media by Tim Cliffe © 1997-2019.

 

Where use will be for commercial purposes, seek authorisation, including details of proposed use, via the Contact page.

 

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