The structure of learning in the classroom is very important. At the start of a lesson we review previous learning and declare objectives, we differentiate to enable each student to achieve their best, and at the end of a session we consolidate the learning which has taken place. Such structure helps to guarantee that our learners remember what they’ve been taught.
Such considerations are just as important for e-learning. Whatever platform or tool you are using it is important to ensure that content meets certain standards. Over the next few articles I will be exploring the structure of e-learning.
Break it up
In the classroom we are used to teaching in lessons or sessions. These lessons build up to a complete curriculum over which the learner will hopefully build an understanding of a given topic.
We all understand the need to break learning down in this way in the classroom, and it applies to e-learning just as strongly. An e-learning course may well need to be broken down into many lessons or modules.
Navigation and presentation of these modules can be handled in many ways depending on the tools you are using, however as a rule it is essential that a learner can see when they have achieved or completed any one module.
What is a lesson?
At this point it might be fair to pose the question “what is a lesson?”
Once again the answer can be found in our real world teaching methods where we are encouraged to identify learning objectives for a each session, and to ensure that students are aware of them throughout that session.
Learning objectives are effectively way-points on a learner’s journey and they give structure to a lesson. A learner with clear visibility of their objectives knows that as they tick off a learning objective they are progressing on their journey.
E-learning modules should be broken down into objectives in a similar way, with around three learning objectives identified at the start of a module. These should ideally be visible throughout the learning and updated so that the learner can see their progress.
There are obvious benefits to teaching with such a structure, but there are also hidden advantages which are specific to e-learning, some of which I will be covering in future articles:
- It is easier to track your learners’ progress on both an individual and group basis.
- Gamification of learning progress (such as user achievements and points) is much easier to implement.
- It becomes possible to craft content which is applicable across multiple programmes where there are shared learning objectives.
- Content becomes more manageable, you can more easily measure the impact on learners and swap out modules to improve a whole course.