July 22, 2015

“For any learning experience to be truly effective, people must be motivated to go through that experience. With elearning, when there’s often little input from other people to cajole or encourage, that motivation needs be engendered by the materials themselves. . . .

. . . good elearning will cause people to reflect on what they currently do/think and start working the way the elearning is suggesting. . . .

. . . Good elearning design incorporates elements that will help users to remember what they’re learning, like repetition, connections to previous ideas, and connections to other senses. . . . “ (“Learning Conversations” by Mark Berthelemy)

Obviously, your trainees must first see a reason for learning what you are offering and that reason is almost always tied to a “What’s in it for Me?” consideration. If they don’t see the purpose in the learning materials, and what’s in it for them, it makes the implementation process especially challenging!

Assuming your e-Learning choices meet that motivational test, there are five essential instructional design requirements for superior e-Learning creations:

• Navigation through a lesson is simple, consistent and intuitive:

o The graphic interface 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 relevant topics.
o Instructional information flows logically from screen to screen.
o Embedded practice with supportive feedback enhances both the 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 consequential 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 (full motion video, graphic animations, still photography or graphics) occur on all instructional screens.
o Audio narration accompanies all text and is controlled by an optional word-for-word “on”/“off” button, making it possible for all participants to learn.

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

• All desired procedural and informational content is adequately covered.
• 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” on your intended delivery system.

There you have it: the salient characteristics and guidelines for meaningful e-Learning instruction.

Take the time to understand and use these checklists before making purchasing decisions.

You’ll be glad you did. Bad decisions waste good money and precious time.

More on Monday – – –

— Bill Walton: co-Founder, ITC Learning
(Mondays & Wednesdays)