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I have vague memories of elementary school, and while most of them are positive, I do remember that occasional powerless feeling of having my schedule dictated to me by an all-powerful adult. It sometimes seemed to my childish brain that my favorite subjects were completely glossed over in favor of the unbearable material I couldn’t care less about, leaving me to wallow in boredom and self-pity.

Through the power of retrospect, I now understand that in many situations this was for the best. Children in particular need to be conditioned and prepared for a world where we sometimes have to do things that we don’t want to do, even when we would much rather be doing something else.

But in adulthood, we ought to be given a little more freedom. Yes, we still need to do things we don’t want to do (what else were we prepping for in school?), but as grown-ups, learning needs to have a certain degree of flexibility. I’m talking, of course, about the segmenting principle.

The segmenting principle asserts that eLearning is more effective when broken into manageable chunks and the learner is allowed to set the pacing, as opposed to an 8-hour eLearning marathon where the learner is belted to a dentist chair and faced toward the computer screen.

Segmenting is also handy for breaking down complex actions and techniques into their constituent parts. Especially when a professional is able to do the task in a quick, fluid motion, it’s important for beginners to get a sense for the sequence of events involved in performing that action.

stock-photo-serial-arrangement-of-ice-fa-348075Another way to break up a course is to put navigation into the hands of of the learner. There should be points where users can periodically save their progress and continue on later. Learners should have the opportunity to review previous sections and decide when they are ready to move forward to the next section, both of which can be accomplished through simple “previous” and “next” buttons.

With a little forethought and planning, any course can be segmented into bite-size chunks that can be managed on even the busiest learner’s timetable.


12 Principles of Multimedia Series, #6

Enjoying this series? We have more!

#1 – Trimming the Fat for More Coherent eLearning

Next: #7- The Power of the Pre-training Principle



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