While designing an online course, the following questions come to our mind – Where do you decide to stop for a particular lesson? How much of the content should be shown on-screen? What information should be put in the audio? Experimental psychologist George Miller found that “The Magic Number 7, Plus or Minus 2” described the maximum quantity of ideas, facts, or issues that people are able to actively attend to at any one time. This is called the Rule of 7.
As increasingly complex concepts are delivered, the recall capabilities significantly decrease. This phenomenon is called the Chunking Limit. To enhance and maximize the learning potential, online instructors are advised to follow this rule and chunk/divide content into manageable units of information.
The word “Chunking” refers to the strategy of breaking into bite-sized, easily digestible information pieces. The human brain needs this assistance because it has the capability to hold a limited amount of information at a time.
Three Steps to Chunk Information
Now that we can say our working memories are basically sieves, what strategies can eLearning designers implement, to overcome this?
Step 1: Start at the highest level
To determine the content hierarchy of the course it is better to use a chunking strategy. Use a chunking strategy while determining the content hierarchy of a course. Determine how modules, lessons and topics will be organized into a logical and progressive order. When this is done, it will help the learner to assimilate large chunks of concepts, which are complex in nature.
Step 2: Do a working memory check
Throughout the process, think in terms of working memory. Do you really need to include all the content you have in front of you? If not, get rid of extraneous content. Less is more.
If there are instances where you have to include certain unrelated facts, try to chunk the content, such that the learner is able to connect individual content.
Step 3: Chunk at the screen level
When the content itself is too heavy, it is reasonable to organize the content, so each screen consists of one chunk of related information. Too much information given on-screen can disrupt the learner’s attention. It might result in inactive participation of the learner and the active engagement is totally lost in midst of the course.
Nowadays, it is extremely important to take it into consideration the benefits of chunking, while designing an e-Learning course. This post will keep you far from the common slip ups. If you are adept with the rules of chunking, it will help you to design successful online training program better.