ELearning is the marriage of technology, especially internet, and education. Though these two are the heart and soul, there are couple of other ingredients that contribute a great deal to the success of this union. Instructional design is the third most important component that not only keeps these two hooked for life but also the audience who would be benefited from their union. Now the question arises if instructional design in eLearning is similar to that in physical classroom learning?
Well, no. Since the learning environments are different, the strategies used in face-to-face courses do not always transfer. Though online learning is a much convenient option, it generally lacks engagement, which is the biggest reason for high dropout rates. It’s only heartbreaking to see learners drop out of a course when it features the best learning material and is delivered by the best instructors.
This is where instructional design comes into picture. The relevancy and effectiveness of an online course depend on how well the content is structured and instructor intervention is planned. Here are 4 work-able strategies for effective instructional design in eLearning that you may resort to:
1. Learn How People Learn
There are a number of theories around diverse learning styles, proposing that almost everyone can be put in a particular category. However, more commonly, there have been identified as many as seven dominant learning styles:
- Visual – those who learn through images, videos, graphs and spacial demonstrations
- Auditory – those who learn through hearing information, such as in a lecture or video
- Physical – these people must physically manipulate items to learn. Hands-on activities help them grasp a concept
- Verbal – those who learn by speaking and discussing. They grasp a concept best when they are explaining it back to someone else
- Logical – people in this category learn by working through logical systems.
- Social – these do the best working in a group.
- Solitary – these want to work on their own to study the concepts.
Becoming familiar with how different people learn can help design an online course, accommodating as many styles as possible.
2. Design Intervention Carefully
One thing that probably no one would disagree with. The instructor intervention is extremely crucial. Also the timing and style. Merely conducting a live lecture just for the sake of it will not guarantee course effectiveness. The activities must be well thought out in advance, keeping different learning styles in mind. For instance, you can appeal to visual learners by explaining the content which is in the form of charts, graphs, diagrams and other visual tools. Auditory learners can benefit from recorded lectures or narrated videos. Appeal to social learners by including group projects and course message boards where they can interact and instructors here can play the role of moderators. A few activity suggestions to increase engagement:
- Be relevant. In a marketing class, you can ask them to create a campaign for their business. In programming, begin by making small but useful apps, like a timer or tip calculator. They can apply what they learn right away.
- Tailor activities to your learners. If you are working with adult professionals, they will have different life experience and skill levels than younger learners. If you are finding that the current group is way ahead of the material, add new challenges to keep them engaged.
- Offer feedback right away. This can be done one-on-one through email or chat or in groups on the class message board. Peer reviews also allow your learners to teach one another and help learn from each other’s mistakes.
- Always emphasize the real-world benefits and applications of what you teach. Give as many real world examples as possible.
- Use success stories. Talk to your learners about people who have applied what they are learning and how it has helped them become more successful. Whether you are teaching creative writing, entrepreneurship, photography or another skill, people love to hear how their hard work can pay off.
3. Look into the Course Delivery System
Begin going over all of the course content and decide how it will be assembled and delivered. Choose the order for your lessons. What information should learners get right away as a foundation for what they will learn in your course?
It’s vital to get learners engaged and interested the right away. Look what elements of the learning material can spark their imagination and make them eager to dig in. Also, work upon:
- Where will you use text? This can be the most efficient way to deliver large amounts of information. Large chunks of text can be hard for learners to take in without losing interest. Intersperse text with images, video and other elements.
- What will be delivered by video? Many learners enjoy sitting back and taking in a video lecture. However, in passive learning, attention can wander. To keep people engaged, use short video segments with quizzes or other activities between them.
- What works well in a checklist, infographic or chart? These are great items that students can take away and refer to even after your course .
4. Find ways to measure learning
Without quality analytics, you will not be able to tell how well you are serving your learners. Gather data throughout the course to see how they are doing and how you are doing as an instructor. Quality analytics are necessary for successful instructional design strategies. A few ways to collect information and measure learning:
- Choose a platform that will show you learner engagement. Look at how long each learner spends on each module. Are they engaged and sticking around long enough to dig into the material, or are they just skimming? If you discover modules of your course that have low engagement across learners, these areas should be revamped to be more valuable to the people who take your course.
- Include quizzes at the end of each module. Go with different question styles so that you can better measure learning. For instance, you will get better data about what people are learning by including fill in the blank questions, as well as the usual multiple choice.
- Require participation on the course message board. This is an area where learners can, in their own words, talk about what they are learning from your course.
- Ask for a course evaluation at the end. This feedback can be be extremely valuable in instructional design in e-learning, allowing you to edit and update your course based on what learners tell you what they want.
Online instruction is challenging, but it has the possibility to allow you to reach a larger audience than ever before, irrespective of their time zones. By using instructional design in e-learning, you can make classes that truly benefit your learners and keep them coming back to learn more.