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What Makes e-Learning Work?

By Ethan Edwards, Chief Instructional Strategist / @ethanaedwards 

Ethan Edwards

What are the characteristics of good e-learning?

This is a question that gets bandied about quite a lot in e-learning design and development circles. The surprising thing is that, for as often as the question is posed, the answer is not particularly obscure. Simply put, good e-learning shares almost all of the same characteristics of any other type of good learning.


Good e-Learning:

  • Motivates the learner.

  • Creates meaningful, active challenges.

  • Relates to real-world problems.

  • Adapts to individual differences.

The Challenge - The Process:

The problem is that process and tools too often get in the way of creating an ideal e-learning experience. We need to use a process (like the Successive Approximation Model, or SAM, instead of ADDIE) that keeps the learner experience (not the content) as the principal design force.

Opportunity for Action, Challenge, Risk

That means that we, as designers, need to worry less about what we say in the lesson, and more about the opportunities for action that the module presents to learners. The main area of focus that one should capitalize on in e-learning that is a huge challenge in ILT is responding individually and meaningfully to each learner response. Our e-learning designs still need to be learner-centric, where the learner is driving the process, and it adapts to differences in the learner. 

Also, as instructional designers try to elevate their designs by incorporating gaming principles into instruction, remember that it isn’t surface media and effects that create a compelling game; rather, it is the challenge, risk, actions, and simulated environment that work together to create an irresistible game experience.

For more tips on how to increase learner engagement and insight on some common mistakes people make when designing e-learning and how to avoid them, listen to the complete podcast. Also, check out upcoming offerings of ATD’s E-Learning Instructional Design Certificate and Advanced E-Learning Instructional Design Certificate which Ethan and his colleagues at Allen Interactions facilitate.

Listen To Podcast >

 CLICK TO TWEET: What makes good #elearning? @ethanaedwards addresses this ? in a blog and #ATD podcast http://ctt.ec/6NalV+ #aiblog @customelearning

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