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Does Learner’s Prior Knowledge Affect The Elearning Design?

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prior knowledge affecting elearning

Today e-learning courseware developers have many tools and technologies at their disposal to enrich the learning experience of learners. However, e-learning design and development needs to adhere to basic learning design principles. All the words, sentences, paragraphs or essays we write are formed from the basic alphabets. Similarly, whatever technology and tools are used in the e-learning platform, the basic learning design principles remain the same. I would like to touch upon some of these basic principles here.

Nature of learners

Nature of learners refers to how learners learn. According Kolb, learners take the new information in two ways. One way is that learner learns the new things through stories which relate to real life experiences and examples. Other way is that they learn through ideas and concepts. Once the new information is taken by the learners some try to experiment with that knowledge. Whereas others prefer to observe the situation and then try apply that information. So if course developers take into account these preferences, they will be able to improve the learning experience for learners; the wide range of tools and technologies available today will be very handy.

Content type

Designing the content to deliver training is based upon the type of training. For compliance training, the principle goal is to enable learners to apply knowledge to real life situations. Scenario based design or case based design is best suited for the purpose. So course developers work on this principle.

On the other hand take product training for the sales team. The principle goal is to equip sales people to be ready with answers for any customer queries regarding products and their features, and the unique benefits they provide to the customers vis-a-vis competition. So the content can be presented in form of short videos, comparison tables, visuals and case based assessments.

In case of HR training courses such as change management training, the content can be best presented as a combination of situation based and guided learning.

Prior learning and technology experience

The design strategies for experienced learners are different from that of novices. For an experienced learner problem centric, result oriented approach where the information can be applied immediately can be used. On the other hand, for a novice learner subject oriented and future oriented learning design is preferred. So course designers need to be aware of these differences in terms of prior knowledge of learners.

The overall goal is to facilitate the learning experience of the learner using tools and technologies, based on these principles of learning design. Over using, misusing or using without valid reason, often leads to poor results in terms of course outcome. Indiscriminate use of technology need not create a better learning experience in elearning courses. It needs to be used wisely based on certain pertinent factors listed here.

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