Generally instructional design helps organizations design content that is structured and addresses the concerns of the user. Let’s suppose you bag a project from a stakeholder who has requested you to develop a structured course using their raw content. You make use of the best authoring tools, develop an interactive UI design using colorful, creative imagery but the feedback you receive from the stakeholder, leave you guessing where you went wrong.
The stakeholder says that learner aren’t able to grasp the content, it is ineffective. Well well ineffective content! The entire essence of developing content is lost if you get a feedback like this. Therefore, you need to introspect, what could be the reason for such failure?
The underlying reason could be more focus on the visual design aspect than the actual course. Who do you blame? Obviously the instructional designer. The stakeholder may not be aware of how the course needs to be designed, and that is the reason he approaches the expert. Instructional designers play significant role in designing effective content. Therefore, the instructional designer needs to ensure that the course should be designed effectively, conveying the required crux of the content and should also have the element of visual appeal.
So, a few tips on designing effective e-learning courses have been discussed below.
Let’s have a quick look at all-
- Audience check : The primary step is to conduct an audience analysis. The basic premise of designing a course revolves around who is the receiver, who are we addressing. Therefore, audience check is a must. Accordingly depending on the learners’ profile and expectations, you frame the course in such way that it accommodates their needs.
- Set learning objectives: To give direction to the course, it is necessary that you set certain learning objectives which specify what is expected of the learners at the end of the program. Only when learning objectives are framed appropriately, can the expected results be achieved. Best Instructional designer needs to carefully look into designing the objectives that improve learning process and increase the scale of development.
- Assessment before content: Generally instructional designers dive into creating the content once they are clear with the objectives, overlooking the fact that developing assessments is of as much importance too. Ultimately what happens, the instructional designer needs to fit in the assessments depending on the domain of content. Well a few advantages of reversing the process are,
- you know what you need to test, so based on the assessment you can align the content,
- assessments cover the broad topics that need to addressed while designing the content and
- assessments enable you to match and segregate the content based on the learning outcomes desired to be achieved.
- Relevance of content: Have you ever questioned yourself, why a learner would spend time in taking your course? The answer is simple, when they pay you, they expect something that would help resolve their issues as well as improve their overall productivity. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that you ensure that whatever content you present or add to you course; it is relevant and is applicable to workplace situations.
- Outlining the content: Providing an overview of the course with a brief description of the topics to the target audience is the agenda of outlining the content. It includes providing insight on the modules and units in the course need to be covered.
- Feedback: Unless the learner is made aware of his mistake, learning process remains incomplete. Therefore, providing feedback once the learner attempts the assessments is important. Not just feedback, useful feedback that adds value to the learner and helps him improve his knowledge is what the expectation is. Key tips on designing effective assessments as part of the content-
- Add the element of curiosity: To make your content interesting and one that makes learners curious to learn, add the element of curiosity to it right from the start. Introduce the content with some statistics or interesting facts that create an urge among the learner to look forward to what’s coming next.
- Break the monotony: Why complicate learning by adding complex information and jargons making it mainstream rather add interactive videos, will enable learners to better connect with the course.
- Follow a consistent style: Well a style guide is a document that enables designers to follow a consistent style throughout the course. It provides a clean look and helps avoid mistakes.
- Learner engagement: The major goal of learning is to engage learners actively in the process. To ensure this, instructional designers can take cues from problem based learning, wherein learners have to think and act independently to provide effective solutions to problems being addressed in the course. This can be done using storytelling, case studies as part of the learning curriculum. This encourages learners to dig for answers, improving their ability to think and act more effectively in adverse, unforeseen situations.