Don’t be a control freak?
How many times recently have you come across blog posts, articles and campaigns highlighting the plight of learners who are forced to sit through ‘boring’ e-learning courses? From a learning design perspective, one of the many areas that could help this cause is to think about the best way to structure e-learning and how learners will use it.
This all may sound obvious but consider the following dilemma...
You want to create something special for your learners, something interesting, thought provoking and memorable. You know they have reacted badly to lengthy, information-heavy e-learning in the past and you’ve heard all about the irrevocable damage caused by clicking that next button too much….
So you decide to structure your learning to give your learners the freedom to find things out for themselves, you allow them to dive further into areas that are interesting and relevant to them. You actively encourage exploration, in fact, there is no set route to follow – “It’s up to you” you say, “off you go”.
…. And then you start to doubt your thinking. How will learners know where to go? How will they find everything? What if they miss something?
Suddenly you are faced with an overwhelming urge to control the learner.
How? You give them a bit of help, explicit instructions, a prescribed route to follow – and to make sure they stick to that route you prevent access to all areas until each one has been visited. And then, you track what they have done – just to be sure.
Sound familiar? You start with the best of intentions, to treat learners as adults, giving them the freedom and space to do what they need to do and then you end up with that all too familiar course menu with locked modules containing linear sequences of course pages and interactions…
So the next time you are considering how much control you need to apply, why not ask some of your intended target group of learners about their own preferences – and why not get out a bit, meet them, watch them using e-learning you have created. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of old fashioned pilot testing and collecting evaluation feedback remotely is no substitute for observing the real thing.