Skip to content

Content Chunking in eLearning Courses: What Can Go Wrong?

Content chunking is an integral part of designing eLearning courses. A skilled instructional designer is someone who can analyze the content provided as inputs for the online course, identify relevant parts based on the learning objectives, and organize it in a logical sequence (modules in a curriculum or units in a course). They then present it at the screen level through bullets, infographics, interactivities, or animations, according to instructional design principles. This essentially is content chunking – identifying and including need-to-know content in the course, to facilitate effective knowledge transfer.

However, incorrect chunking can confuse learners and lead them away from the eLearning course. In this blog, I’ll highlight a few reasons content chunking can go wrong. Creating crisp content is made easy if chunking is precise. Another major reason for making mistakes in chunking is overlooking or leaving out important information. As an instructional designer, before you chunk, ensure you identify what is to be communicated to the learners and how it is to be presented. Determine the content and prioritize the hierarchy; make certain all aspects of learning are covered. Avoid dumping unnecessary content on your learners, instead, structure the content into levels of importance and guide them through.

Levels of Chunking

Chunking is done at 2 levels – the course level and the screen level. Chunking at the course level is based on the learning objectives of the eLearning course. Once the objectives are in place, topics can easily be put into sequence. For chunking at the screen level, it is recommended that each screen must give an account of one learning point or unit. If the learning points are very small, you can explain more than one learning point in a screen, but try to limit to 3-5 ‘learning points’ per screen. We need to determine how modules, lessons, and topics will be organized into a logical and progressive order. If not done at the required levels, learners will be forced to go through dumps and dumps of content.

Now we come to the reasons content chunking fails to be effective.

Information Overload

If missing out essential information is one, overloading information is another reason. Introducing ‘n’ number of topics at one go will not be taken well by the learners, as it will weigh heavily on learners’ minds with too much information. Learners are confused with the facts and find it difficult to retain information. If content is rightly chunked with adequate research, learners can grasp the information with ease. Bite-sized content helps learners master the learning objectives. 

Neglecting to Apply the Chunking Principle

According to learning experts, neglecting to apply the chunking principle is the most common oversight. When you don’t present learners with content in smaller, sensible pieces, you compel them to manage more than they can serenely deal with. This affects comprehension and implementation. Stay away from “under-chunking”, remember the chunking standard while organizing content. Keep in mind that a slide ought to contain no more than 7, give or take 2 things. Always be ready for chances to break information into shorter chunks of substantial content.

Inconsistent Tone

Writing and designing styles differ from person to person. Now, with the millennial generation, it is apparent that they seek content that suits their taste. However, keeping it formal is the need of the hour. How do you fuse both together? Regardless of the style in use, ensure that you maintain a consistent tone, while chunking. Ensure that the language is consistent all through the course. If your audience prefers American English, be cautious to have a uniform format across. The key is to analyze the needs of your target learners. Use a mix of trendy and formal styles, with simple and easy language. Being watchful of the preferred style will go a long way in ensuring consistency.

Not Using the Right Format to Present Content

Instructional Designers ought to stay away from dull pieces of content. Rather, it is far superior to chunk compiled material into visual cues or numbered lists or bullet points with subheadings and a lot of whitespace. This makes content less demanding to carry, read, and grasp. Titles, headings, and subheadings should all be important and portray what each chunk of content covers.

Learners may miss out on vital information and struggle to assimilate information when the material is immense and voluminous. With legitimate mapping and data chunking, learners can get to the required data quickly. Short passages of 3 to 4 sentences are reasonable and enable learners to absorb information successfully, comprehend ideas better, and hold what has been learned effectively. When content is presented in bite-sized nuggets, it elevates the working memory of learners. It encourages them to retain the skills or learning introduced in the eLearning course for a more drawn out period.

Have you come across other significant mistakes in content chunking? Do share your thoughts and views in the Comments sections below. Happy Reading!

nstructional Design 101: A Handy Reference Guide to eLearning Designers