Someone posed this question the other day:
What are the design implications when you change the technology?
So, let’s assume that we’ve been teaching something face-to-face, but now we want to mediate the training. Put it online, for example. (This was the real question.)
Try Chunking Content into Many Smaller Sections
Here are some key design implications:
- Clear Objectives. Make the objectives clear (one way or another). This is even more important at a distance than with classroom instruction.
- Self-Efficacy. Encourage learner confidence. Some learners feel like they cannot learn something without an instructor present.
- Value. Find a way to help the learners to tie their own goals to the course goals. This will help them to avoid distractions (email, Facebook, coworkers) and invest time and effort in learning.
- Mood. Keep things positive.
- Just the Right Difficulty. Not too easy (they’ll tune out). Not too hard (again, they’ll tune out).
- Small Steps. Encourage persistence by chunking learning tasks and creating a schedule. With interim deadlines, learners will be more likely to keep working.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. Find ways to make this happen. Some skills are difficult to practice without a partner, a group, or an expert to lend a hand.
- Feedback. Building in feedback (knowledge of how the learner is doing when practicing a task) can be a challenge at a distance. Still, it can come from the task itself, from comparing results to an expert solution, from expert appraisal at a distance, or from enlisting someone local who is qualified to provide guidance (confirming or corrective feedback).
These considerations will assist with some of the key ingredients that help with learning. We’re assuming here that there is a good reason to train people, that we know our audience, that we’ve analyzed the content, developed objectives, and already have at least a few good ways to provide practice and feedback (in the classroom). Assuming all that, now we just have to make sure that we adjust the objectives, timing, rationale, approach, chunking, practice, and feedback so it will work at a distance… weaving in motivation strategies through every turn.