eLearning beginningsOnce upon a time, in the early days of the magical kingdom of eLearningbrosia, our benevolent king tasked us with creating an eLearning course. We had the confidence, smarts, and strength to complete our quest, but we needed a little advice on where to start. So we approached the court wizard to see if his wisdom could guide us. It was then that we received the magical advice that would prepare us for the arduous journey ahead.

Know Your Audience

Before designing and developing your course, you need to know who your course is directed at. This will dictate how you introduce the objectives and ultimately the subject matter. Ask yourself a few questions. What prior knowledge is expected of your learners? Would they understand the jargon you might use? How can you best appeal to the personality types/cultures that this particular course is aimed at?

Lay Out the Course Objectives

By letting the learner know what they need to pay attention to, you relieve them of a tremendous cognitive load. Though a rookie might be tempted to treat their course like a summer blockbuster and try to surprise the learner with a plot twist (“The narrator was dead the whole time?!“), this really isn’t the best course of action when it comes to learning. That’s not to say your course can’t be engaging, exciting, etc., but in eLearning the concept of a “spoiler” does not exist. Break the course into chunks and tell your learners what the purpose of each chunk is from the beginning. That way, they know which questions they should be asking and they will keep their ears and eyes open for the answer.

Differentiate Knowing from Doing

Objectives and goals are handy, but sometimes you need to separate the knowledge-based objectives from the action-based objective. Knowledge-based objectives focus primarily on what you want the learner to know by the end of the course, while action-based objectives are what the learner needs to do to complete the course, as well as what they should be able to do by the end. Often these two correlate with one another. For instance, you need to know where the fire extinguisher is (knowledge) in order to use it to put out a fire (action). Let your learners know which objectives are related and why those relationships matter. Sometimes knowing the “so what?” makes people more inclined to trust what you’re telling them.

With this knowledge, we were able to chart our epic journey and were fully prepared to march right into the dragon’s lair and design the eLearning course!

But our journey had only just begun…

How do you begin an eLearning course? What steps and methods do you use to lay out objectives and manage expectations? Let us know in the comments!

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