In recent years, the eLearning industry has grown tremendously as technology has advanced to expand the medium’s capabilities and reach. Whether you’re using eLearning as a supplement to in-person learning initiatives or as an alternative, it provides an effective way to address many of the limitations associated with in-person learning formats.
Creating and implementing eLearning programs is a highly complex and in order to ensure your courses are delivered with maximum effectiveness, it’s critical to leverage instructional design during the planning phase.
Instructional design provides a holistic approach to the creation of learning programs. While it encompasses the creation of instructional materials, it goes well beyond this. The principles of instructional design:
It’s critical for eLearning course creators to use instructional design when planning out the structure and flow of their courses. This ensures that all necessary steps and components are addressed and the course delivers the best possible learning experience.
There are a variety of reasons why instructional design is a critical tool that must be implemented during the creation of online courses:
Instructional design analyzes the needs of learners in order to ensure the course materials are delivered in the proper format for students to retain and apply the information at a later date. In particular, the use of engaging visual learning formats facilitates the establishment of mental connections which result in deeper retention of knowledge.
Research has demonstrated that the human brain is able to more effectively recall information delivered via images, charts, videos, infographics and other visual elements than through text. When instructional design is implemented, these elements can be more thoughtfully incorporated into course material to provide for maximum retention.
Online learning is significantly more self-directed than in-person learning. Students typically work through eLearning course materials at their own pace and in many ways, their success is dependent on their ability to stay motivated to work through the course in a consistent and timely manner. When an online course is designed well, students will be engaged in the materials and as a result, they’re more likely to make time for the course on a regular basis.
Instructional design evaluates a course’s target audience to understand what modalities best motivate them to learn. This helps ensure your course materials include the right mix of visual, text, multimedia and interactive items to maintain the learner’s interest and keep them engaged throughout the process.
Each eLearning course has unique goals and a different target audience, so a one-size-fits-all approach to learner engagement simply isn’t effective. By leveraging the tenets of instructional design, you can tailor the elements of your course to maximize engagement and make students want to learn more about the subject matter.
One of the most important aspects of instructional design as it relates to eLearning is to improve the user experience (UX) of the online course. The UX impacts the accessibility of the learning materials. When an online course is accessible, it improves the student’s ability to navigate and interact with the materials, which is critical to their ability to achieve the course’s learning goals.
Without a strong UX design, it is more likely that the learner will become confused and distracted from the primary purpose of the course. Instructional design ensures this doesn’t happen by creating a UX that facilitates a smooth process of absorbing the educational content.
A well-designed course is able to effectively communicate the message being delivered to learners. This is critical to the ability of your course to achieve its intended learning goals. Since there is no in-person interaction with an instructor, online courses must tell a compelling story to keep learners engaged and ensure they receive the intended message. Instructional design focuses on determining the right story and messaging that will resonate with your specific audience, making it easier to communicate challenging material in an online format.
In-person learning gives the instructor an opportunity to read the room and go off script to foster greater participation and action among students. Online learning formats lack this ability. Therefore, your course material must contain ways for students to participate and take the actions necessary to acquire more knowledge. This may involve creating opportunities for students to communicate directly with the instructor as well as giving students the tools to acquire additional knowledge on their own.
Instructional design helps eLearning course creators understand the ways in which their audience learns best. This provides a framework to build in opportunities for participation and taking additional actions which may supplement the learning achieved by the course materials.
If you’re moving from an in-person learning format to an eLearning program, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to course content. Many of the materials you used in person can be adapted for use in an online course. However, the precise format of this content must be adapted to facilitate proper engagement in an online setting.
You can use instructional design to evaluate your existing in-person learning materials to determine the best way to modify them for an online setting. This will typically involve taking dense texts and reformatting them in a more engaging visual format, often using video to supplement static images.
Online learning has the potential to create deep, impactful learning experiences. However, this only occurs when courses are designed thoughtfully and with the needs of the learner in mind. Courses that simply have people clicking objects on the screen or scrolling down through long passages of text to hit the “Next” button aren’t actively engaging the learner’s mind. This limits the depth of learning that can occur, and it fails to provide the levels of engagement necessary to motivate students to complete their coursework.
Most eLearning courses are completed independently and without an instructor actively guiding students through the content. Therefore, online learning courses must provide everything the student needs to succeed within the course content. Without instructional design, it’s much more challenging to create a complete learning experience that allows students to get the most out of the course. By implementing instructional design, you can deliver a better experience that results in deeper, more engaged learning.
Crafting an effective eLearning program is a complex process, and working with a specialist with extensive experience in instructional design will set your organization up for success. At Beyond Campus Innovations (BCI), we can help you deliver a great learning experience that will allow your students get the most out of your course content.
Our exclusive Learning Transformation Platform™ has been developed to help you achieve your eLearning goals today, while creating the flexibility for your program to grow and evolve over time. Our platform contains five essential components that will set your eLearning program up for success:
Contact us today to learn how BCI can improve your organization’s online learning program.
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