A simple reason why online trainings are challenging is because there is NO physical presence of the instructor. Now, teaching or facilitating the audience to learn the content is a little tough if you don’t follow a few fundamental principles of eLearning design. Let’s look at the four main reasons what I think affect the learning outcomes of an online course, and avoid them to make your trainings successful.
1. Not formulating an instructional design strategy for the course
Formulation an instructional design strategy is one of the most important and difficult steps in the process of digital course development. Due to tight schedules or other reasons, we tend to skip this step and quickly jump to the outline and storyboard creation steps. However, as we didn’t decide the instructional design strategy, we end up developing an uninteresting course which doesn’t work!
To avoid such a failure, decide on the instructional strategy right at the beginning of the course development process. This will set the scope of the training program and thus you have a clear path in front of you. Here, we need to decide:
- What is the learning goal of the training?
- Who are the target audience?
- What do they already know and what should they learn from this training?
- How to connect the existing knowledge of the learners with the training content?
- What is the instructional strategy (scenario based, storytelling, avatar driven, etc.)?
- What is the visual strategy (cartoons, line diagrams, vector graphics, images, etc.)?
2. Ineffective learning objectives
When you write learning objectives, keep the learning goal in mind and frame them in such a way that they are clear, precise, and measurable. Usually, learning objectives are ineffective when they are not clear and understandable, hence the learner doesn’t get connected to them.
Write them in the learners’ words, so that you can increase their interest levels to take the course right at the beginning. The learning objectives must address all the key topics that will be taught, and you need to ensure that each unit or lesson in the training addresses one or two learning objectives.
3. Assessments not aligning with learning objectives
Many instructional designers start the development of the storyboard keeping the learning objectives in front and jump into the content pool and at the end frames the formative and summative assessments. There is a lot of gap between the time you wrote the learning objectives and you prepare assessments, and this leads to misalignment.
You can avoid this pitfall by framing the assessments right after you are done with the learning objectives. When you prepare the assessments, ensure that you need to assess the learners on what you teach them, and that’s what is called alignment of learning objectives and assessments. When the learning objective says, “You will be able to distinguish between the types of motors”, use a matching assessment asking them to identify each type of motor, based on its description. But, DON’T use a multiple select question asking them to identify the types of motors.
4. Too many learning points in one screen
While preparing the outline, we generally tend to keep an eye on the number of screens in the training. This will result in “merging” two or more HEAVY learning points in a screen, which creates cognitive load. A ‘learning point’ or ‘learning unit’ is a chunk of content that can’t be broken any further.
Each screen should have one ‘learning point’ and if it’s too small, you may merge 3-5 learning points. But, see that a screen does not contain more than 5.
For example, if you teach 3 learning points – what is a motor, functions of a motor and the types of motors in one screen, it will create load on the learner. I suggest we break that screen into 3, so that the learner has ample time and finds it easy to understand each topic and then move to the next topic.
These are the 4 main reasons that affect the quality your trainings. So, avoid them to make your online trainings successful! Hope you find this post informative.