What does good elearning look like?

What are known as “rapid elearning tools”, coupled with excellence in learning or instructional design, can be used to create simple but effective learning materials appropriate for many work-based learning needs or as part of a blended course in an educational context.

I tried out some elearning just recently – a “bite-sized leadership and management” module on emotional intelligence. Intended to take 20 minutes, it was basically just a series of web pages. I found it no better than reading a good book on the subject, and probably not as effective. At least in a book it’s easier to keep track of where you are by quickly re-checking the previous page, rather than having to click back for every paragraph. The only interactivity was clicking onto the next web page. While I can appreciate that it’s good design to have clear and simple amounts of text on a page of elearning, I finally gave up on a page which had a single sentence on it:

“Task: What behaviours could be developed to enhance each of the remaining three competencies in the matrix?”

This question asked me to consider a matrix which was not on the page in front of me, in fact I had to click back two pages to find the diagram of the matrix, then remember the “three competencies” as I clicked forward again to the question. And there was no way to get feedback on my answer, not even a selection of typical answers. Given that this question was key to the skills that the module was aiming to raise awareness of (it can hardly have developed them), I felt cheated to get an answer for just one of the four competencies and be left to flounder with the other three. It’s as if the elearning developer, or the subject matter expert, ran out of time and just gave up writing the course…

In the kind of collaborative tutor-led course that I often teach, I might not have included these answers in the materials I provided for my students, but the answers would have been developed by discussion amongst the participants with discreet and skilled guidance from myself as the tutor. While that’s not possible in a short self-study module like this, I can think of many ways that the learning could have been improved. Perhaps that’s for another blog post…

Originally published on reachfurther.com