The purpose of an eLearning program is to help learners know something new that will help improve their performance. Its purpose is not to impress the learner with the technology that is being used. Technology is just a medium that is used to help learner build on his existing know how to improve productivity. What is more important is that the courses need to be engaging for the learners so that maximum benefits are obtained. Let’s see a few key points that instructional designers need to keep in mind while designing an eLearning program.
Understand the learner: The most important aspect one needs to keep in mind is the target
audience – the individuals who are going to take the course. What are the main objectives that the course is expected to meet? What is their current skills sets and what is that they hope to gain after taking up the course? Answers to these questions will help in designing the course that best suits the intended participants.
Learners’ preferences: Each individual has his/ her own preferences. Some learn best when the material is presented visually in the form of charts, tables or graphs. Others prefer to hear the interpretations for better comprehension. Some others prefer to be involved in some of activities so that they fully understand the concepts. eLearning designs should cater to individuals with different learning preferences. This can be done by have a balance of visual, audio and activity based learning objects.
Content should be relevant: Content should be relevant to the day to day context of the learner. At the end of the course, the learners should have acquired some new skill or knowledge that they can apply immediately in their jobs. It should be based on real-life situations so that learners feel they take back something that can be applied to their jobs.
Budget for practice time: Learners assimilate what they have learnt if they are given time to practice what has been introduced in each module. He should be given the option to proceed with the course at his own pace. Job aids and external resources could also be helpful.
Smooth and easy navigation: Instructions and buttons on the screen should facilitate smooth navigation throughout the course. Any interactive content should be simple and should ensure that the learner is not taken away from the sequence of the learning material. He should be able to switch between windows easily and the GUI should be clear and self-explanatory.
If an instructional designer keeps in mind the needs of the learners and the objectives that the course is expected to meet, it is more likely that he/ she will be able to come up with a course that is engaging for the learners.