In the eLearning context, presenting information relevant to the learning objectives alone is not enough. An eLearning course can be considered effective only when it can engage learners and motivate them to leverage the fullest benefit of the course. And to make this possible, essential elements need to be included in the eLearning course.
Let us see the elements that help to shape up a good eLearning course.
It is often said that content is the king of an eLearning course. Don’t you think it’s true? Even the graphics and images, which are otherwise considered a powerful medium of conveying information, need to be used in such a way that they match and support the content better. Ultimately, content and all other elements that go into developing the course should be completely aligned with the learning objectives.
The content may include anything from facts, concepts, principles, procedures and process, but it should be relevant with the requirement of learners and contribute toward enhancing their knowledge and skills. Here, it is also important to ensure that content is well chunked and presented in a simple and clear manner so that learners can remember the gained knowledge for a longer period of time.
E-learning courses can become disengaging and fruitless if the information is not presented in a proper sequence and that too logically. Hence, presenting information in the correct order is crucial to ensure learners’ interest in the course as well as to achieve the course outcomes.
Depending on the learning objectives, the course content needs to be grouped into logical modules and then presented in manageable chunks in a sequenced manner. The learning can be made even more effective if the present course content is linked with the earlier knowledge of learners.
Audio can be very effective when there’s a requirement to explain a complex graphical presentation or a simulation exercise during an eLearning course. It is proven by various research activities that explanation of complex visuals by the audio reduces cognitive load of learners. According to a published blog by ASTD, titled “Stop Wasting Resources on Learning Styles“, when any animation or such complex visuals are required to be explained, audio is better than text as it allows the learner to put their complete attention on such visuals.
However, it is advised that audio narration should not be exactly matching to the text on the screen as this can overburden the learner. Also, it is very important that the narration style in audio should be user friendly or conversational so that learners can connect with the course well.
We learn new things in our lives by trying, by performing and by making mistakes. The interactivities in eLearning courses are intended to allow learners to learn by trying to do some task, some activity. Here, by interactivities I don’t mean just clicking the buttons to explore something informative in the course. Interactivities need to be instructionally sound and capable enough to force learners to think and then perform relevant tasks by applying the knowledge gained.
Simulations, drag-and-drop exercises, quizzes and strategic games are a few tools which can offer good interaction with the course. A good example of such interactive exercises can be an effective simulation of a software suite. We, at CommLab, have created such a simulation for one of our clients, an FMCG major, to explain the “Procure to Pay” software suite. The whole simulation was explained with the help of characters who will be demonstrating the steps involved in the software while speaking in a conversational tone. We have provided sufficient scope in simulation for learners’ practice.
Assessments are very important in any learning methodology to know about the learners’ progress in the course. But assessments should not be considered only as a method or formality for knowing the overall achievement of learners from the learning activities. They should also be used as a medium for checking the limitations and difficulties of learners throughout the learning period, if any, so that required measures can be taken to aid better learning.
But like any other elements in eLearning courses such as content, interactivities, audio, etc., assessments also need to be engaging, instructionally sound, fun and aligning to learning objectives. In this regard, challenging and interesting exercises, relating to the learning objectives, can be included in courses in the form of quizzes and games. I also like to stress here that these exercises must be followed by appropriate feedback.
So these are the essential elements of a good eLearning course. These elements can help learners to engage with the course as well as meet up their learning goals. How do you find these elements useful in designing a good eLearning course? Would you like to add something more to this? Please do share your views. We would really appreciate to hear from you.