Chapter 3: Advanced QA Testing
So far we’ve talked about the basic and intermediate techniques of quality assurance testing (QA). In our final installment, we’ll look at more advanced techniques that will help your eLearning perform smoothly.
• Use browser emulators to test older versions of common browsers – One thing many designers don’t realize is that many major organizations are a couple of versions behind on the common browsers. For example, many companies, associations, and government entities still use Windows 8. So how can you make sure that your eLearning course will work on their devices and computers?
There are programs and apps that can run your course within an environment that emulates an older browser. You can also sometimes mimic older versions in the browsers themselves – in Internet Explorer, it’s called F12 Developer Tools and in Chrome it’s simply called Developer Tools. Both are found under the Settings icons in the upper right of the browser.
• Test in an LMS environment – Testing in an LMS, or learning management system, is crucial. Your course can be amazing and do wondrous things, but if it simply doesn’t work in an LMS, all that hard work will be for nothing. There are several different types of LMS test applications available. Personally, I prefer SCORM Cloud. Whichever one you use, make sure that it covers the kinds of testing you need – whether it’s for a particular version of SCORM or has adjustable parameters that allow you to properly emulate the course’s LMS performance.
Certain types of file structures and LMS calls are required to make the course operate properly within an LMS environment. These are primarily handled by the programmers of the course, but while testing within an LMS you can catch some of these structures and calls if they’re not working. For example, if the structure doesn’t include a call for the course to report “Passed” in the SCORM environment, you will see that in the results of your test run. You need to report that to the programmers so they can correct the structure and enable the correct LMS calls.
• Test in the Target LMS – Sometimes, because there are many LMS programs, you may find it necessary to test in a specific system. This requires you to have access to that LMS, via a password or some other path. When you do this, you want to be alert to any quirks that your course might display in the system, such as functionality, longer than normal load times, and course completions registering improperly. You may need to work with IT to help troubleshoot these items.
• Regression testing – “Regression” testing refers to re-checking older bugs that were found over the course of development. This can be done at any point in the QA cycle, but it is highly recommended that you do this once the project nears completion and is almost ready to be delivered. Many of the bugs you check again will not even be possible due to changes in the course, but look for them regardless. Pay close attention to any bugs that affected functionality.
Here are some quick general tips on QA that apply at any stage of testing:
• Remember that your goal is to deliver a course that is as bug-free as possible, NOT perfect. It is a saying within the QA world that ALL computer programs – whether they’re eLearning, video games, or other software – have bugs. Your goal is to make sure they go out with something very minor, not a crash or functionality failure.
• Maintain a clean, easily understood QA checklist and ticketing system (often called a database or DB). It helps if it’s sortable with topics like functionality, graphics, text/typos, and more.
• After every new build comes in, double-check that previous bugs don’t occur. Remember, any time a programmer (or yourself) goes into the file, there is a chance that something that previously worked broke. Recheck the build from start to finish.
There are plenty of ways to QA your courses. These are only a few suggestions to help guide you through the process and perhaps give you some ideas of your own. Remember, creative thinking is important in QA work! Find new ways to “break” things so that you can rebuild them even stronger than before, and make sure your course is ready for the heavy lifting of actual use.
Thanks for reading! If you have any tales to share or questions to ask, please take part in the forums. Happy bug-finding!
If you’d like to learn about custom course creation from Digitec Interactive, visit our eLearning page.
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