4 Tips for Managing eLearning Review Cycles Like a Pro

If I were a betting man, I’d bet that managing eLearning review cycles with your subject matter experts has given you a headache on more than one occasion. Am I right? Well, of course, I am! I know, because I’ve experienced headaches caused by eLearning review cycles more times that I’d like to admit!

The design and development of an eLearning course depends on a smooth collaboration between you and your subject matter experts. The real test of this collaboration occurs during each of your eLearning review cycles.

Your subject matter experts must understand the importance of getting their feedback during the eLearning development process. To help you with this, here are four tips for managing your eLearning review cycles.

Tip 1: Explain the eLearning Development Process

eLearning Review Cycles

Before you even think about handing off a storyboard, prototype, or draft of the course to your subject matter experts to review, they must understand the eLearning development process. Although it’s easy to assume your subject matter experts know how a storyboard works or why it’s a good idea to develop a prototype, more often than not, the eLearning development process is a foreign concept to them.

The initial kickoff meeting is an excellent time to educate your subject matter experts about the eLearning development process. Explain each phase of the process and what they can expect from you during those times. Give you subject matter experts the opportunity to ask questions and explain any terms they may not understand.

Explaining the eLearning development process ensures you and your subject matter experts are working with a shared understanding.

Tip 2: Identify Who is Reviewing the Course

eLearning Review Cycles

Have you ever come close to finishing the development of an eLearning course, and at the last minute your subject matter experts decide to involve a few additional people in the review process? When this happens, you know how stressful it can be! Even the smallest change can result in hours of rework.

I’ve always believed that designing an eLearning course is a lot like building a house: the closer you get to completion, the harder it is to make changes. For example, let’s say you’re building your dream home. The foundation has been poured, the walls are up, and the finishing touches are being added. At the last minute, you decide to change your mind about the location of the kitchen. At this point in the construction process, how much work and time will it take to move the kitchen? The answer: a lot!

Managing your eLearning review cycles is all about managing expectations. Take the time at the beginning of the project to identify all the individuals responsible for reviewing the course and document them in your eLearning Project Plan.

Tip 3: Set Clear Deadlines

eLearning Review Cycles

Because your subject matter experts are likely new to the eLearning development process, they may not fully understand how much you depend on them. Often times, subject matter experts will assume their role is to simply tell you what they want and wait for you to create it. They may not realize the need for them to review the development of the course at each stage, including the storyboard, prototype, course beta, etc.

After you’ve taken the time to explain the development process, take a moment to set clear deadlines for the eLearning review cycles. Make sure your subject matter experts understand these dates and can commit to them. If not, adjust appropriately. Finally, document these dates in your eLearning Project Schedule and share it with your subject matter experts. Make sure your subject matter experts know how delays providing feedback can cause delays throughout the entire project.

Tip 4: Specify How and What to Review

eLearning Review Cycles

The final tip for managing your eLearning review cycles is to educate your subject matter experts on how and what to review. To get what you need from your subject matter experts, guide them through the various eLearning review cycles. Don’t assume your subject matter experts know the difference between reviewing a storyboard, a prototype, or course beta.

Because you need different types of feedback during each review cycle, it sometimes helps to provide your subject matter experts a little guidance:

When reviewing the storyboard, focus on content accuracy and organization.

  • What content is missing?
  • What content needs to be removed?
  • What content needs to change?

When reviewing the prototype, focus on course appearance and navigation.

  • Is the course easy and intuitive to navigate?
  • Do any navigation restrictions need to be added?
  • Does anything with the look and feel of the course need to change?

When reviewing the course beta, focus on the how the course content is presented.

  • Does the flow of the course make sense?
  • Is the course too short or too long?
  • Does the course meet the stated learning objectives?

When reviewing the final course, focus on the finishing touches.

  • Are there any spelling or grammar errors?
  • Are there any outstanding glitches or bugs?

Managing your eLearning review cycles doesn’t have to be a headache-inducing process! Sometimes, all it takes is some guidance on your end to ensure your subject matter experts are reviewing what you need them to review.

Additional Resources

Tim Slade
Tim Slade is a speaker, author, and award-winning freelance eLearning designer. Having spent the last decade working to help others elevate their eLearning and visual communications content, Tim has been recognized and awarded within the eLearning industry multiple times for his creative and innovative design aesthetics. Tim is a regular speaker at international eLearning conferences, is a recognized Articulate Super Hero, author of The eLearning Designer’s Handbook and creator of The eLearning Designer's Academy.

3 Responses to “4 Tips for Managing eLearning Review Cycles Like a Pro

  • Roger Whitacre
    3 years ago

    Hi Tim,

    One of our biggest challenges is when there are two or more people who need to review the same deliverables. We don’t want them all reviewing at the same time because when we get back their edits, there are usually conflicts in opinion. Then we need to get back with everyone to resolve the conflict, which takes time. We’ve tried doing one person at a time, but if the next reviewer doesn’t know what was changed by the first reviewer, then they may want it changed back. Our best results have been to have the first reviewer mark up a deliverable then pass it on to the next reviewer, who can see the first person’s edits. Then if they disagree, they can talk to each other to make a decision. But if we are under tight time constraints, we don’t always have time for that. What have you found that works well?



  • Hi Roger,
    We use ReviewMyElearning for that. It does a great job of letting reviewers see and discuss each others comments.

    • Thanks for sharing, Roger! I’ve also used ReviewMyELearning in the past. It’s a great tool!

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