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5 Instructional Design Essentials for E-learning Courses

E-learning courses are not about just sharing information but enabling employees to apply that information to their jobs. This means that courses should have good content and activities that help learners assimilate the given information and respond to questions posed. Feedback to those responses is another important element of eLearning courses.

In fact, Mr. Thiagi, the well-known training consultant, states that

Effective Learning = Content + (Activity + Feedback)

Quite obviously, if we are going to share chunks of information slide after slide, screen after screen, it will not really help learners understand how the content is going to help them at work. That would be anything but effective learning!

Therefore, courses need to be interspersed with a series of learning activities that help learners retain, remember and recall information at the time of need. They promote active learning instead of making learners passive receptors of knowledge. So, what are these “Learning Activities” that we are talking about?

Learning activities in eLearning courses could be in the form of:

  • Quizzes
  • Puzzles
  • Simulations
  • Case Studies
  • Scenarios

5 Suggestions to Design Activities in E-learning Courses

What form of learning activity can be used really depends on the content of the course and its objective. However, designing Learning Activities is a creative process and one can get carried away easily. So, how does one ensure that the activities are in line with the objectives of the course? Here are 5 suggestions.

1. Activities need to be well integrated into the course content so that the key learning is emphasized.

Ideally, there could be a quiz, multiple choice questions or puzzles at the end of a new concept or content that evaluates learner’s comprehension of the knowledge or information shared. These should be evenly spread across the course instead of having a summative assessment at the end of the course.

2. Activities need to be designed such that they enable learners to get a firm grip on the content.

Activities are neither to entertain learners not to distract them but gently guide them to focus on the essentials in the course. So, when a learner attempts an activity and gets it wrong, he/she understands that the content needs to be reviewed for better understanding.

3. Activities should be designed keeping in mind the learning outcomes.

They should strengthen the critical-thinking and problem-solving ability of learners. Creative activities enable learners to build on their decision-making skills that are relevant to their jobs.

4. Make learning authentic and relevant with real-life examples, scenarios and simulations.

There is no point testing learners on theory as this would have little meaning unless it is applied in a real-life context. For example, in a compliance training course, it will not be effective to ask a learner to state or recall a particular rule. Instead, it would make sense to have the scenario where an employee is stated to take a particular stance and ask learners if the employee is complying with the regulations.

5. Build on the prior knowledge and experience of learners.

We know that adult learners come with their own set of experiences and knowledge. Design activities should acknowledge their knowledge. This can be done by sharing case studies with a given problem and getting learners to analyze a problem and offer solutions.

These are some of the guidelines that enable courses to be truly engaging to employees and promote effective learning. If you have others to add to the list, please share them in the space provided below.

nstructional Design 101: A Handy Reference Guide to eLearning Designers