Mankind learns best by example and observation. This is demonstrated in babies who learn every second by observing and imitating the environment and people around them. This fact holds good for adults too. Adults also learn by experimenting on their own and through trial and error. Think of the caveman who discovered fire by accidentally striking two stones together out of sheer boredom.
Thus, any instance/situation can impart learning and such instances/situations are referred to as learning events. In the context of eLearning, a learning event refers to any event developed to facilitate learning. This includes the content along with its organization, visualization, presentation strategy, assessments used to reinforce learning and the feedback provided. While these elements are common across all eLearning courses, the fundamental blocks of interactive learning events are context, challenge, activity, and feedback.
Context sets the background for the learning and should consider the learners’ existing skills and performance gaps. Learning becomes meaningful and effective when it is linked to and expands an existing knowledge base. Context represents the conditions under which the learners need to perform. The context must compel learners to explore the topic and learn. It should have an element of motivation and encouragement.
Challenges render learning more engaging and interesting, increase motivation, and compel learning. They should strike a fine balance between being too easy and too difficult. Easy challenges bore learners whereas difficult challenges must force learners to give up. It is a crucial to design challenges which match the current level of progress.
Activities enable learners to demonstrate their learning while taking the course. They can include case- studies and scenarios based on the topic. Like challenges, activities also should not be trivial or included just for the sake of having them in the course but should drive learners to apply their knowledge.
Feedback is a vital component of an eLearning course. Providing accurate, appropriate feedback is essential to reinforce learning and complete the learning cycle.
There are two kinds of feedback:
Consequences reveal the responses to a particular action. This reinforces learning and makes it realistic.
Judgements as the name suggests just specify whether the selected option/action is correct or not.
A good eLearning course must be constructed around these four elements. The learning activities must relate to learners’ current knowledge, build on it, give them a chance to explore and take decisions based on the learning and help them understand what their actions imply so that learning is complete, realistic and bridges the performance gap.