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Content Chunking in E-learning – 4 Common Errors

Written By Induja Gurukuntala

How NOT to Chunk Content?

Content chunking is an important step in designing an eLearning course. It is a skill that an instructional designer should possess – to break any large data into understandable chunks of information while deleting any extraneous data.

Why is it better to Chunk Content?

A well-chunked content is better understood by the learner. Especially in eLearning where the learners are not guided directly by an instructor, presenting content as smaller chunks can hold their attention. Therefore, to enhance and maximize the learning potential, it is necessary for instructional designers to chunk content into manageable units of information.

While chunking ,there are many errors an instructional designer usually commits. Some common errors are listed below.

    1. Deleting important information

With loads of content, it is difficult to keep track of information that is important to the learner. So an Instructional Designer may tend to delete important information unintentionally.

    1. Including unrelated facts

While chunking a heavy content, it is very important to chunk it reasonably. In an eagerness to give the learner more, you might end up including unrelated information. This extraneous information may distract the learner.

    1. Including multiple ideas in one paragraph

Including multiple ideas in one paragraph overloads the learner’s mind with too much information. Learners may get confused with so much data and might find it difficult to retain so much information.

 

    1. Not maintaining proper flow

Another common mistake could be inappropriate chunking. The chunked content when not presented in a logical manner may miss the connectivity and confuse your learners.

How to Avoid Chunking Errors?

Keep the wheat, not the chaff

It is a very tough task to decide what content is really useful to the learner. For this the best way would be to keep the background of the learner in mind. When you know about who your learner is, you would understand what content the learner will find useful.

Chunk relevant and coherent

Make sure you always chunk the content relevant and it is coherent. It is better to chunk the content in a way where the learner is able to connect individual content. Always include only the information that the learner needs to know.

Here is an example of the content.

Panic disorder

And here is how we chunked the content for the learner to understand better.

Panic disorder

One screen, one idea

Never introduce several ideas in the same screen. Communicate only a single thought or idea. Do not include more than 3 to 4 sentences in one paragraph. This will help the learner to focus on important information without getting confused with too many ideas.

In cases where the content has more than one idea in one screen, split them into two different slides.

Here’s an example.

Panic symptoms

This is how we split the topic and included only one idea in one slide for the learner to retain more.

Signs and symptoms

Sign symptoms

Chunk keeping in mind the hierarchy of the content

Always chunk first at a screen (slide) level, then at the lesson level, followed by unit, module and finally the course levels.

The best option to stay with this line would be to stick to the learning objectives. This way you can avoid straying away. Keep in mind to organize content on the screen clearly and also maintain the logical flow.

This is an example of how we structured the course so that each unit reflected the learning objective.

Chunking content

Here are a few other tips that would help you to chunk better.

  • Avoiding long and complex sentences is a must.
  • Use bullets and numbering to convey the main points.
  • Break content into steps if possible.
  • Use white space appropriately to increase the screen’s visual appeal.

These are some things to be kept in mind while chunking content. What is your strategy? Do share your ideas with us.

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