The objective of any eLearning course or program is to help learners know something that they do not already know. An eLearning platform is not a medium to showcase technology. It is also not a means to undermine the knowledge or capability of the learner. It simply is a medium that builds on the existing knowledge of the learner and updates him with new technologies or methods as per the needs and objectives of organizations. Therefore, it becomes necessary to design online learning programs that stay help us CONNECT to LEARNERS. So, what is the best way to do that? Here are a few tips:
Assess the needs of the learner: Understand the basic requirement of the learner with respect to the objectives of the program. Where does he currently stand and what is he supposed to achieve at the end of the learning process. What is his job profile and what is it that he is expected to improve or achieve after learning? This information will ensure that the program is tailored to his specific requirement which will be received by him positively.
Cater to different learning styles: Elearning designs should incorporate the visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning styles of learning. It means the online learning materials should have a balanced combination of all the three learning objects – video, audio and activities.
Build upon the current knowledge of the learner: Learners instantly connect with the program when something that is relevant to them is being talked about. It motivates them and they are likely to be more engaged with the learning process. Hence, references to their work-life scenarios in the content would help them relate to the course.
Interactivities that relate to prior experiences: Content can be based on situations that the learner is likely to be in. Give them a hypothetical situation and ask them how they would solve a given problem in such a situation. This will encourage them to get involved in the learning process.
Make content application-oriented: At the end of the course, learners should be able to take back new skills–set to their jobs. Content should not be just information sharing. It should be devised in such a way that the learner understands and appreciates the knowledge or skill and is able to apply it to a job. This can be done by including role plays (in case of soft skills) or hands-on modules (in case of technical skills) in the design of the online learning program.
Allow learners adequate practice: Online learning programs should be manageable and not intimidating to the learner. He needs to be presented with the opportunity to assimilate new information at every stage. This can be done by giving him options to try out or revise what he has learnt before moving to the next segment.
De-cluttered navigation: Navigating through the eLearning course must not be a herculean task for the learner. Instructions and the course flow should be smooth and logical. Interactivities should be built in a simple manner to ensure that he does not lose track of how he got to the current window.
Keep in mind learner objectives: There is no end to the amount of information one can share on any given topic. However, while developing content for online learning, it is important to understand what the purpose of the course is and tailor the content in a precise manner to meet the given objective.
There are no clear cut rules as to how to connect with learners in online learning. However, it does help for instructional designers follow certain guidelines to put together learning objectives and course content in a format that is appealing and engaging to learners.