Your team created a great course that is interactive and engaging, has well-formulated learning objectives, the optimal use of media and so on. You’d have expected such a course to be a hand down winner – except for one tiny but significant detail – the content kind of seemed ‘all over the place’. Sometimes precious learning time was devoted to covering content that was not really linked to learning outcomes. Ever had it happen with a course you worked on or reviewed? With pressing timelines and pressure to get things done, your storyboarding could easily go off track and you could end up with the situation I’ve described above.
Here is a 3 step approach to make sure you stay on track with your online course content:
- Write your learning outcomes: Learning outcomes to put it simply, should map to what the learners need to be able to do in the real world once they have taken the training or eLearning course. This simple step ensures that your courses stay on target throughout.
- Write your assessments: Many times, instructional designers prefer to cross the assessments bridge when they come to it. As a result, content gets written in detail and finally assessments are forced to fit within that framework. I’d like to recommend that maybe a top down approach would be more effective in helping you stay on track with your learning content. Write down your assessments once you have your content outline in place. This serves two important goals – Firstly, it helps you to know exactly what you should be testing. Without a lot of time spent on writing content in between the formulation of learning objectives and the testing of learning objectives, it is easier to come up with questions that are directly linked to learning outcomes. Anyone who has come across a fancy assessment question (such as a crossword) that had little to do with learning outcomes knows what I am talking about. The second most important thing is that as the instructional designers write their content, they are less likely to get derailed with ‘nice-to-know’ content and focus exclusively on ‘must-know’ content.
- Write your content: NOW write your content and the rest of your storyboard. You have 2 check points to ensure you don’t go off on a tangent – 1) Your learning objectives and 2) Your practice and scored questions linked to those learning objectives. With such a clear focus, you have every opportunity of making every piece of content in your course count. And that is what effective learning strategy is really about. A simple trick, but which works every time.
To sum up – write your learning outcomes, write your assessments linked to these outcomes, and THEN write your content using suitable learning activities. The result will be effective courses that are likely to hit their target and help learners learn what they really need to learn.