Today we’re going to look at the “Design Requirements for Effective On-Line Learning.” There are five essential requirements:

Navigation through a lesson is simple, consistent and intuitive:
o The graphic interface (GUI) is attractive, inviting and meaningful.
o The components for learning appear in a consistent and logical location.
o The components for learning are always visible to the user and accessible with a single click of the mouse.
o Individual segments of instruction appear on one screen without the need for scrolling.

• Instruction is meaningful and interactive:
o Lesson content is subdivided into meaningful topics.
o Instructional information flows logically from one screen to the next.
o Embedded practice with supportive feedback enhances both learning and learner confidence.
o Assessments, prior to and after instruction, are integral components within the learning environment.

• Adult learning characteristics are accommodated:
o Learners have control within a non-linear learning environment.
o Instructional content is meaningful and relevant to the learner.
o Concrete examples are used to support learning.
o The lesson content is structured to accommodate learner time constraints.

• Media is appropriately integrated as part of the learning experience:
o High definition visuals occur on all instructional screens.
o Video stills or animation replace video motion whenever bandwidth is a limitation.
o Audio narration accompanies all text.
o Access to audio support is optional in order to accommodate learner preferences.
o Special sound effects are integrated within the instructional environment.

• Administrator management requirements are satisfied:
o The on-line lesson provides adequate learning for the targeted audience.
o The on-line lesson “works” on the intended delivery systems, be they internet-access or internal networks.
o The on-line lesson is SCORM compliant.

In addition to these instructional design characteristics, there are seven simple guidelines to keep in mind whenever you are tasked with making e-Learning purchasing decisions or when designing your own e-Learning courseware:

• Avoid motion-video whenever you are faced with bandwidth limitations.
• An option for full audio accompaniment must always exist.
• Assemble the “right” team for either evaluation or internal design.
• Do NOT become enamored with technology.
• Distinguish clearly between information and instruction.
• The lesson must be purposeful, simple and short.
• Make sure it “works.”

There you have it: a short outline of the salient characteristics and guidelines for meaningful e-Learning instruction. Take the time to flesh out each item in your mind before making purchasing decisions or when developing your own on-line courseware. You’ll be glad you did. Bad decisions waste good money and precious time.

More on Tuesday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning