I was reading a blog written by Lynn Hodges, Co-author of the book, “Teaching With Style”. In her blog, she identifies four different styles that work when training adult learners.
1. Logical and collaboratively designed program.
2. Learning that actively excites and engages learners.
3. Inclusion of humorous and surprise elements.
4. A non-judgmental environment valuing the experience and intellect of learners.
She also points out that we tend to teach in the way we prefer to learn. However, this may not be the preferable mode of learning of the learners. Therefore, she urges trainers to introspect on the style that they tend to use and try out other styles, going outside their comfort zone, keeping in mind what works with adult learners. This got me wondering if these suggestions have relevance to eLearning courses.
On speaking to my colleagues in the instructional design department, I learnt that Lynn’s suggestions are relevant to eLearning course design as well. I learnt from our instructional designers that they keep the following in mind when designing eLearning courses for our clients.
Logical course structure that enables easy recall
- Course topics are organized to provide visual mapping of the content.
- A logical content flow that enables learns to build mental models and patterns.
- Cues to help learners retain key chunks of knowledge.
- Audios and visuals that facilitate effective knowledge transfer.
Learner-centric instructional strategy that engages and enthuses learners
- Textual instructions that enable learners to think and introspect on the concepts being shared.
- Visuals, scenarios and examples that are close to learner’s work life.
- Exercises that help review their understanding of the subject matter.
Learning techniques that provide cognitive relief to learners
- Role-plays or case-studies – Used in compliance courses where learner is involved in making a set of decisions based on a situation.
- Reflection – Could be used in process trainings to prompt learners to think and lead them to evaluate their work methodology or thought process.
- Reckoners – To provide a concise overview of ideas or concepts using texts or visuals.
- Quizzes and puzzles that add a bit of fun element into the course.
Courses designed keeping in mind adult learning principles
- Acknowledge and value existing knowledge of learners in the tone and narrative of the course.
- Enable learners to be self-directed, where making errors are accepted and considered an important part of learning.
- Provide flexibility in course navigation – option to turn off audio, skipping a couple of screens, if the learner so desires and so on.
- Response to quiz or assessments in a non-judgmental manner that encourages and facilitates learning.
A quick look at the methods adopted by our instructional designers and they do fall into the different training styles that Lynn was mentioning in her blog. So, one could adopt these training styles into eLearning as well.
There is a tendency to stick to a single template and continue using it for all the courses. However, as Lynn suggests it is a good idea to get out of the comfort zone of the standard template for eLearning to experiment with something different, so that it surprises learners each time they take a new course. In short, let each of your courses have a style of its own! What do you say?