Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Giving Learners Options Through Navigation

During the “How to Design an e-Learning Program” course from the University of Toronto’s Continuing Education, I used an e-learning project that I’m presently creating at work to apply the various concepts I learned. The course I’m designing is for employees who need to learn to post information on our corporate intranet using Umbraco.

I was able to think through the e-learning course that I’m designing in order to teach to two very distinct types of learners. I call these the Tech-Savvy Learners, those who are comfortable learning new programs; and the Nervous Learners, those who are intimidated by technology and are sure that this will be difficult to learn.

I didn’t want to create two distinct courses and I was hoping that it wasn’t necessary. I learned that giving learners options for how they wish to go through the course is often a matter of navigation. I haven’t had the chance to test my navigation with learners yet, so I hope that it’ll work out.

Essentially the Tech-Savvy learners can read the introduction and instruction pages and then go directly to the intranet test site to practice what they’ve learned. Anyone who wants more information, or who is more visual, can choose to watch a demonstration. They can re-watch the demonstration or re-read the instructions. When they are ready, they can go practice what they learned.

The Tricks and Tips section is highly recommended but a learner can always use the Table of Contents to skip whatever they want.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Instructional Design Principles

It's done! Another course completed. This latest course was How to Design an e-Learning Program from the University of Toronto's Continuing Education. I have now completed 3 of the 5 courses for the E-learning Certificate. Yeah!

Even if I was familiar with most of the topics, it was great to learn about these in more detail. It turns out that following a few e-learning and design blogs has kept me up-to-date with what's happening. It was great to find other sources of information and inspiration through this course. I’ll be sharing some of these with you.

My intent was to write a post on what I learned in the course, but after reviewing my course notes and assignments, I have enough ideas for at least three posts. This is good news since this blog is neglected compared to my Quilting blog.

Here are some of the topics and ideas that stood out and how I’ve been able to apply some of these.

What I learned (Part 1):

Instructional Design Principles (or rules worth following when designing e-learning course)

My first assignment involved identifying instructional design principles to follow during the design of my project. Finding these on the internet wasn’t easy because they are rarely identified as principles. Here are some of my favourites, sorted by source. My observations are in the bullet
following the principle.
E-Learning by Design
E-Learning by Design

E-Learning by Design by William Horton
  • Teach only what they “need to know”; what is essential; skills required in their jobs.
    • This can be difficult because we love learning and think everything is important. It’s not!
  • Ensure that they can skip what they already know and what they could learn on their own. 
    • The trick here is to make sure that they already know it or that they can come back if they find out they didn’t know it all.
  • Base the design on clear goals that are important to the organisation.
    • It was an interesting and worthwhile exercise to link the course goals to my organisation’s goals. 
Quick Survival Guide for Modern eLearning Designers
Quick Survival Guide 
A Quick Survival Guide for Modern eLearning Designers  (it’s a free download worth getting)
  • Use visuals to explain the content normally write out as a screen filled with bullet points.
    • An image can sometimes put the information in context. I really try to avoid the wall of words, whether it’s in e-learning or on the internet.
  • Every element of the design needs to have a purpose.
    • Excellent idea that applies to content as well as graphics etc.
  • If someone can say it better than you, then let them (link up to their blog, article or video).
    • Faculty Focus Blog
      Faculty Focus Blog
    • Not easy to do when things need to be bilingual but wise none-the-less.
  • Use a consistant format.
    • This is key for a professional looking product. Attention to detail is important here.
  • It takes longer than you think to create online content! 
    • Doesn't that apply to all project?
I’m not sure that I consciously kept these principles in mind, but I did use them. Not only are the principles relevant, but all three sources are excellent.

I hope that you have time to check these out!