A good design is the crux of an online course because it paves the way for effective development, implementation and evaluation. A well-designed eLearning program satisfies the needs of the learners and helps to meet the objectives of the organization.
What makes an effective design? According to Beatrice Ghirardini, instructional designer at the Food and Agricultural Organization, an excellent design of an online course incorporates the following elements:
1. Realistic learning objectives
2. Proper sequence of the course
3. Right instructional strategy
4. Effective delivery strategy
5. Efficient evaluation methodology
Now, let me share my views about each of these.
Realistic Learning Objectives
A learning objective is a sentence that states what a learner will accomplish at the end of a course or module. A good design specifies learning objectives for each single learning activity as well as for the entire course. Marriage of the expected level of performance to the learning content produces highly feasible learning objectives.
Proper Sequence of the Course
Proper sequence of the course helps in cogent presentation. Sequence may depend on a hierarchy of learning objectives, teaching first those skills that seem to be prerequisites for all other skills. It may also be based on the order of actions performed in the real job environment. In a non-job oriented course, structural connections between concepts can be used instead. The design should consider the prior knowledge of the learner, his ability to understand and the need to focus on specific topics.
Right Instructional Strategy
This is fundamental to a good eLearning design given the lack of physical interaction in online learning. The instructional strategy must enable effective absorption and retention of knowledge. It should facilitate the application of the knowledge to real-life situations. It must exploit the full potential of online collaboration. A mix of various methods and techniques can be used to this effect. Learning management systems (LMSs) can be used to facilitate better social learning and instruction management.
Effective Delivery Strategy
The comfort level of the learner to the use of technology, availability of his time and his learning pace are important factors. A good delivery strategy should address technical constraints such as lack of sufficient bandwidth and latest computers. The organization’s money and time must be optimized. The use of LMS substantially reduces the delivery time and improves its efficiency.
Efficient Evaluation Strategy
Evaluation should serve as the guiding principle. Evaluation must be aligned to the learning objectives. Certification needs also play a key role. Modern LMS can be effectively used because they are equipped with powerful tools for assessment and analysis of student comprehension and performance.
How do you design an e-learning program? Please share your experiences in the comments box below.