An eLearning course is built to meet the needs of numerous stakeholders in an organization. However, the learner is the most important stakeholder who decides if an eLearning course is successful. Developing a course that meets all the critical needs of the learner is one of the most important needs of eLearning today. Designing and developing a course that meets all the needs of the learner guarantees success. But designing a course that is completely learner centric is easily said than done.
To design an eLearning course that is completely learner centric, it is important to take a step back and understand what the learner wants before starting the designing and development phase. Understanding the learner need means learning what they expect from the course and how doing the best to deliver their expectations. For an eLearning designer to gain learner perspective, it is important to answer these critical questions.
- What does the learner already know?
- What does the learner intend to learn through the course?
- How does the learner like to interact with the course?
- How does the learner get personal attention?
- Does the course help them meet their goals?
These are some critical questions that you must know the answer to, before beginning to design an eLearning course.
Once the answers to such critical questions are identified and laid out, it is essential that all possible ways to provide a learning centric approach are studied and understood. To make the journey of designing a learner centric eLearning course easier for you, we have identified some best ways to get started. Here is how:
- Self-exploration guide
eLearning is an experience and not a simple process. If you look at it as a process, you will likely develop a process and not an experience. Developing an experience means allowing the learner enough freedom to explore around and understand what they are signing up for. Adding self-exploration guides means you will allow the learners to understand the course in the perspective they like. Begin the course with a question, challenge them throughout the course. When they navigate through the course, the learner should be able to understand something about themselves. Add thought provoking questions. Even better, allow them to investigate, think, and solve problems. When the learners gain these experiences, they will leave the course with a wonderful experience that allows them to remember the concepts better.
2. Do not try to reinvent the wheel
We all know that there are well researched and established guidelines for eLearning development. You do not have to reinvent the wheel completely. However, you do not have to stick to every word of the guideline as well. Pick items that meets your needs only. Allow learner to take an active role. It is essential that you strike the right balance between the guidelines you know and the experience you are designing for your learners. Leaning too much towards guidelines would make it impossible for you to design a good experience for the learner or make the process learner centric. At the same time, ignoring guidelines means you could miss out on critical items that are expected to be delivered in eLearning. So, finding the right balance is the key.
3. Rethink your learning objectives
Do you always have to be the one who defines learning objectives? Not really! We have been discussing about making the learner responsible for their learning. So, why not allow the learner decide learning objectives as well?
When designing your eLearning, adding a step where your learner will choose and define their learning objectives is a wise approach to make your learner more involved in the learning process. Allowing the learner to create objectives will allow them to decide what they want to learn and make them more responsible in achieving their goals.
4. Providing freedom of choice
Who doesn’t like freedom? Every learner values their freedom more than anything. If you would like your course to be learner centric, allow them as much freedom as possible. While designing eLearning courses, it is important to create a diverse set of learning interventions to use. Using videos, audios, webinar, documents, charts, diagrams, lists, graphs, lists, quizzes, reflections, podcasts, interactive activities etc… in the right combination will allow learners of all types to be more engaged in the learning process. Choosing one form of learning simply restricts the freedom of the learners and could be less welcome.
5. Provide room for expansion
Learners’ freedom is extremely important in an eLearning course. Assuming that every learner will be happy with the amount of information delivered could be risky business. Adding enough information to allow learners the scope to learn more is critical in creating a learner centric approach. Making additional resources available and allowing learners to download handouts will help them revisit learning or expand their learning based on their needs.
While these 5 simple ways can enhance the experience the learner gains from the course, the most basic thing a designer must understand is the needs of the learner. Understanding the learner’s needs and designing the right experience is challenging, however, investing time to understand learner needs can be extremely beneficial in designing the right strategies for eLearning.