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Content Comprehension – The Key Step of Instructional Design

Reading is an important activity of our lives. We read magazines, articles, new papers, etc. So how is reading different from content comprehension?

Reading refers to decoding symbols to derive their meaning, whereas content comprehension is a process of thinking and constructing meaning by interacting with the content.

In eLearning, the content is generally provided by the Subject Matter Expert. These inputs generally lack a proper structure. As an Instructional Designer, it is our job to make sense out of the given content. Content, we read, ranges from simple to complex. Any learning content aims to impart knowledge, skills, and bring about a change in the attitude. All instructional material no matter what the subject matter is, tries to answer the following questions:


As instructional designers, we face many challenges. The content we receive is new and unknown to us. The content is usually heavy, boring and difficult to understand. The biggest challenge is the time constraint. So, how do we overcome these challenges?

Here are a few suggestions that help you overcome these challenges.

Set a broad learning objective for the entire course. This helps you identify relevant and irrelevant content.

Survey each document at a different speed depending on the nature and complexity of material. For example, when you come across unfamiliar or abstract ideas, technical material or material on which you want to retain effectively decrease your speed. On the other hand, when you find easy/ simple material or redundant illustrations, increase your speed.

Use the active reading method on selected documents. After a glancing at the document, you need to do some active reading. Understanding and evaluating the content with reference to your needs is called active reading. Read criticallyby asking questions about the text. Who is the audience? Is it linked with the previous module? Why is this content included in the document? By doing this, you keep your mind self-motivated, which will assist you in exploring and getting new ideas.

Summarize your understanding. Once you are done with reading the content, try to make a summary of the entire content. Review your notes for an overview the chapter. This will help you in understanding what exactly the content says or is about.

I hope these suggestions help you to comprehend the content. If you have any other suggestions, do share them with us.

The State of Learning: 2023 and Beyond