While some have made testing into an art, I still see a ton of eLearning courses that haven’t been properly tested. If you’re new to eLearning development, then you too may not have this process down yet.
Here are the basics of functionality testing to help you catch potential issues before launch.
Publish and host the course. The final LMS is best, but if you don’t have access to the LMS or a sandbox or staging area, then use SCORM cloud. Testing in a development program preview window, a review site, or locally will not work, as the behavior in an LMS or other deployment system will differ.
Take the course to ensure that the appearance, content, and functionality work as intended. This testing step is a good one to combine with your QA and proofreading. Do this in multiple browsers and devices. (For instance, that beautiful animation you created, that looked perfect preview, may not show up in Internet Explorer.) If your course is being launched in a company that only uses one version of a browser on one device, test on that device, but if learners have access to other browsers and devices, you’ll want to test others.
Don’t stop here!
Try to break the interactions.
There aren’t any specific rules here. Just try to break things. Your end goal is to make everything error-proof. For example, with tabs, click them all quickly and see what happens. Are you trapped listening to 2 minutes of overlapping narration? (This is a common example I see.) For some complex interactions, you might also want to play around with scrubbing the timeline or clicking the previous button. Spend some extra time with drag and drop interactions. These can be especially tricky to error-proof.
Also be sure to check that all mandatory items within your course are restricted so that learners can't skip important information and still pass the course. You also don’t want to find out too late that people taking your compliance course received a passing score without having completed all the required elements because they were allowed to.
Test the course resume property.
At the end of the course, close out of it and then reopen to check to see that the course restarts on the correct slide. This can be an issue with lengthy or especially wordy courses, exactly the worst kind of course to have a resume property issue!
Test the completion status.
When testing for courses that include optional links, slides, lightboxes, branching, etc., test the course without doing any of the optional items to make sure that it is still reporting the correct status. This one can be especially painful to discover after launch. You don’t want to find that the publish settings were incorrect by getting 250 LMS service desk tickets from unhappy campers.
Test the slide resume/reset properties.
After you have completed the course, jump back to the beginning and replay it. This step is about testing the navigation. If someone wants to review something, would they be locked out from viewing important material on a second visit, or worse, would they end up trapped on a slide?
Test the navigation.
Jump around in the course using the menu and previous buttons to make sure you don’t get stuck anywhere. This is especially important for nonlinear courses. Basically, you are checking that there is nothing accessible via the menu that can either trap the user into the wrong path or throw off the completion status or scoring. While people usually plan through the navigation in the design phase, it can be easy to overlook menu set up.
Test for other miscellaneous course/system issues.
You might have other course- or system-specific items you’ll want to test. For example, if you know your system has issues with videos due to Citrix or your firewall, then make it a point to do extra testing around those. If your course will be launched in China, make sure someone is testing the links to make sure they are accessible behind the great firewall.
Or if you’re designing for low bandwidth or have loading issues with certain types of media on your system, you’ll want to test to make sure your course performs as expected under these conditions. You might also want to have a process to test how your course plays with a high volume of simultaneous users.
Your testing process may differ based on your organization and the complexity of the courses. This can seem like a lot, but once you get in the habit of thoroughly testing your courses, it will become second nature. It helps to build a closing checklist though, especially for team projects.
If you are developing using software that has new releases every month, be sure to do basic tests on a few devices after each software release during development to ensure that your course is still working as intended.