Successful courses that effectively teach their lessons generally require a well-made and focused course design. The best way to ensure the development of solid courses is by following instructional design best practices and focusing on quality. Only by following the best eLearning practices of instructional design can you create an excellent and effective course.
Identify the Objective
The first step of effective instructional design is identifying what you want the learner to understand once they have completed your content. Creating a clear and simple goal helps the designer in the process of developing a course and the learner ultimately benefits. For the learner, instructions with a clear objective create an attainable goal which motivates them to learn. On the developer side, having a clear end goal helps focus and organize the content. Building your design around a core goal helps hone the design and makes cutting unnecessary content easier. It is up to the designer to include all the elements necessary for a learner to achieve the end goal without extra content slowing the process down or deterring learners.
Create Engaging Courses
There are different ways of keeping a learner engaged and moving through content. Some methods focus on removing learning barriers while others keep learners interested and invested in continuing, but effective instructional design uses a combination of methods to improve the learner’s experience.
Educational content should always be easy to follow with simple navigation. Design basics will dictate where the Next button and other core functions should go so learners naturally know where to click. Remove as many design and technical barriers as possible to let learners progress without fighting the design.
Allow learners to navigate freely and select what content they want to view instead of keeping them strictly on rails. Use different methods of delivery to keep the content engaging. Games, videos, infographics, interactivities, simulations, and more are all ways of delivering information that keeps a learner’s attention.
Effective audio is another method of maintaining a learner’s interest. Audio narration reduces the cognitive load of the lesson, making it easier to digest. Multiple voices speaking in a conversational tone are the most effective narrators. Be careful not to narrate all on-screen text; audio should bolster on-screen visuals, not replace them.
Courses should be interactive and require learner action to continue. Little is more boring than reading a block of text as a lesson. Adding interactive elements like drag-and-drop activities, games, simulations, and other exercises will help learners stay focused. Stimulating a learner’s brain with a sense of exploration allows for deeper learning. Seeing something new, learning something new, and understanding how those new experiences connect to the real world help the lesson stick. Constructivism supports the idea that when learners actively participate in learning they process and understand the lesson better than if they were passively learning the same topic.
Optimizing Quizzes and Tests
Tests and quizzes are a vital part of learning. A learner needs to be tested on what they know to gauge how much they have learned and what topics need to be reviewed. Many students will tell horror stories of tests that asked about topics they were never taught or topics that did not pertain to the lesson. These stories serve as examples of what not to do when designing a test or quiz. Tests should always be fair to the learner and should only test information the original lesson covered. Test questions should be easy to understand, and correct answers should be clear to any student that has completed the corresponding lesson.
Providing feedback to the learner is often just as important as the course itself. It’s often said that people learn more from mistakes than success and that holds true in learning situations. Good courses not only say when a learner is wrong but explain why they’re wrong to create a teaching moment. Implementing feedback is as simple as explaining why the answer a learner chose is wrong and why the correct choice is correct. Simply telling a learner they selected the wrong answer doesn’t help them but explaining why that answer is wrong continues the learning process instead of stopping a student in their tracks with no guidance.
Instructional design brings many components and design principles together to create content that a learner can easily navigate and complete. By following eLearning instructional design best practices you can create a memorable and effective course. Keeping lessons engaging by incorporating interactive elements will help hold a learner’s attention. Tests and quizzes should be fair and only pertain to what has been taught in lessons. When a student does answer a question incorrectly, the course should explain why that answer is wrong so the student can continue learning and eventually arrive at the correct answer. All these elements must be present in quality instructional design but perfecting a course design can be difficult. SkillSource Learning is here to help you create a perfect instructional design that will meet your goals and leave your students gratified.