The testing in #4, 5 and 6 is common in the software industry. While the ADDIEdevelopment model is tried and true, new models like Agile are becoming more popular for a reason - they help us concentrate on getting our products completed quickly.
The Agile process for module 1 of your course might look like this:
Full course design (my heart almost skipped a beat - you wouldn't start building a module without planning out the entire course right? Whew!)
Module 1 development
Module 1 alpha test
Module 1 beta test
Module 1 soft launch/pilot
And repeat with module 2
The course would be developed AS STUDENTS WERE IN THE COURSE. Course content would depend on the student's needs and feedback. This is also called personalization and is the direction that global education is headed towards.
Although there is a common set of testing procedures for tech companies (that would take much longer to explain), I propose that a different set of standards should be in place for the online course industry:
Your course is still text or scripts at this points.
Subject matter experts review the content and suggest edits/additions/deletions.
This test is conducted while the course is in draft format. Any suggestions from your testers are still easily integratable into your product. Easy to change scripts before filming videos.
Much longer than other testing - could be several weeks of revising content and sending it back to alpha testers for review.
Looking for problems and inconsistencies.
Almost always free but could be offered at low cost. You might even pay your alpha testers!
Often see course launchers use up most or all of their ideal customer on beta testing. Then the launch comes and no one buys. It is time to reconsider the "beta test".
Conducted after the full product has been created using the feedback from Alpha testing.
Usually focused on user experience like possible tech issues. Content issues are solved by this time.
Testing happens before the product launches.
Short time frame.
Not usually done with real customers. You need people to click through your course, play the videos and really explore the tech to look for bugs.
Very few changes are made at this stage, feedback from testers is collected and considered for future releases.
Usually free but could be offered at a low cost. You might even pay for beta testers!
Also known as field testing.
Should be unbiased users.
Should be as close to ideal clients but not actually ideal clients!
Testers must answer detailed questions about the user experience. Consider using a live synchronous session to watch how the user clicks through your course. Ask them to think aloud about what they are seeing. How are the colors? Fonts? Video sizes? Do the links work? Can they find what they need?
"Remember, the point of a Beta Test is to measure the functionality and usability of the course and not the content." Learning Solutions Magazine (https://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/299/beta-testing-an-online-course/page2)
Soft launch/pilot test
Courses or products offered at a discounted price in exchange for testimonials and social proof.
Done with real customers.
Reconsider running a "full course" with your testers. Split your testers in, say, three groups. Give each group a portion of the course. Give them the course and allow them to work through it self paced. Gather feedback as quickly as possible.
Should not test whether the course "works". Did your users meet the outcomes? If so, your course works!
Products should go through alpha and beta testing. Soft launch is optional.
Are you willing to completely pull your course apart if your beta test feedback is poor? If you answered no, then you should NOT be doing a beta, you are already in the soft launch phase.
At this point, your course assessments should measure how good the content is, not the tester feedback.
Don't accept anyone into your testing groups. Be sure to have a wide range of experience levels in terms of the content, skills and technology.
While the different testing phases may seem drawn out, they are extremely important to the integrity of your online course. Spend time planning for testing before your course launches. Not only will this save you time, hurt feelings from negative feedback and money, your customers/students will immediately recognize the difference.