I found Tom Kuhlmann guiding principles inspiring today in an attempt to get all of us designers intentional about our course designs. Sounds like a no brainier… would we not be intentional? Here is what he shared:
Even if the existing content looks right, don’t start there. Take a step back and start with a blank screen. Then determine how the course needs to be built and what content you need.
If the existing content you have works, great. If not, then you’re not letting it dictate your course design. In either case, you want to be intentional in how the course is designed. This will ensure that you’re moving in the right direction.
He then calls our attention to three questions that we should answer about our courses:
- What will the course look like?
The course is going to look like something. Even if you are in a hurry and decide to do nothing but a simple conversion, the course is still going to look like something. Most likely the look that isn’t right for the course is the one that comes from the existing content. But, there is a look that is right for the course. It’s just a matter of finding it. So we should be intentional about the visual design of your elearning course…
- What content needs to be in the course?
Subject matter experts tend to think everything’s important. And it probably is in the proper context. But “important” content is not the same as the “right” content that is appropriate to the goals of the elearning course. Not all of the information about a given topic needs to be in an elearning course. I prefer a backwards design approach. At the end of the course, what change should I expect from the learner? What does it look like if I see it? Then build the course so the learner can practice and demonstrate that desired change. So we should be intentional about the aligning the course content to the course objectives…
- What will the learner do with this content?
This question builds off of the second one. The content in the course is structured to meet specific objectives. As the learner goes through the course, what is she supposed to do? This question helps focus on the interactive component of the course. Do you want her reading and reflecting on content? Is there a place for her to do something, to make some decisions? Once she’s exposed to the course content, what s she supposed to do? Sometimes the course content is simple refresher material and doesn’t require a lot if interactivity. But often the content is new and is tied to some sort of performance expectation. What can you do to get the learner to practice using the information in a setting similar to what they’d do in the real world? So we should be intentional about aligning the course’s interactivity to meeting the course’s objectives…
I hope these guiding principles can refresh you today and perhaps encourage a little more intent in your design.