The need for sign posts
Since time immemorial, travellers have relied on stars to specify their location and guide their way. We all are aware of the mariners compass used to steer ships on the right course to avoid rocky reefs. From constellations to lighthouses, to air traffic control rooms, there are multiple ways and means to lead travellers along the desired path. Why do we use them?
It is because of our inherent desire to know where we are currently and follow the right path to reach our desired destinations. Reaching the destination is the ultimate goal, and the journey becomes pleasurable and exciting when we have a guiding star lighting our way.
This human inclination to be guided and know where we are holds good in all aspects of life. Thus, it trickles down into eLearning too.
Need for sign posts in eLearning
As an instructional designer, you would have developed and/or might be required to develop eLearning courses with multiple modules or curriculum-based eLearning courses. These eLearning courses can often baffle learners as they contain multiple modules, units, lessons and finally, topics. Learners might want to know where they are at any given point in the course. In fact, it is a recommended eLearning practice to provide learners a clear indication of their position within the entire course/curriculum. To achieve this, you can follow some simple steps.
At the course level, we can show all the modules present in the eLearning course and let learners select their preferred module. If learners need to access the modules sequentially, access can be limited accordingly, but it is a good practice to show all the modules at a glance, so that learners gain a comprehensive idea of the topics being covered.
Shown below is the screenshot of the Launch page of a course with 6 modules. It shows all the modules in the course, but allows sequential access.
At the individual module level, there are many techniques to indicate the learners’ current position. A simple method is to present a small strip in the course GUI containing all the modules in sequence, highlighting the current module. This, coupled with the screen title, will help learners know very easily where they are in the course/curriculum. An example screenshot is given below.
The same sequence can also be presented as an info-graphic at the corner of the screen, which on clicking can expand into a course map.
These are some simple measures to help learners keep track of their current position, and guide them through the entire course/curriculum. Know other simple, innovative methods to help achieve this? Do share with us.