eLearning courses cannot be pieced together over night. They should be drafted, re-drafted, crafted and planned if they’re to be successful and engaging for students and learners. Nobody wants to be bored while they’re studying – learning should always be fun and inspiring!
With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of tips that will help you draw-up an eLearning course that will secure maximum engagement from your students. This will help both you and them; they’ll learn more and you’ll be successful in your goal of teaching. Success leads to more success, so getting it right is important.
Here are some tips on how to structure a course that will bring about maximum student engagement.
Clarity is key.
In reality, the planning of a course is the foundation of its success. Without a solid foundation, your eCourse will flounder.
Content you include should be appropriate to the topic you are teaching with a clear structure. A clear structure is particularly necessary for courses of an online nature. eLearning is student-centered, as opposed to the traditional teacher-led approach of the face-to-face class, and this places the onus heavily on the student to find meaning to their course. As students cannot interact so easily as a traditional classroom, explanations cannot be sought so easily. However, if you plan well then this purpose should be overwhelmingly obvious.
Plan, plan and plan again. Iron out confusion. Make things easy. Unlike a high school, eLearners often aren’t always required to be in the class. With poor planning you will guarantee that they are not.
Every stage of the students’ journey should be sign-posted along the way. For learners, this creates confidence, enthusiasm and engagement. Each lesson carries from the next and covers the key points of any topic. Resources are offered to make clear the necessity of learning this key point. If a student doesn’t understand why they’re learning about, for example, compliance regulations in the insurance industry, then they simply won’t engage. Nor will they learn.
Like building with Lego, each single brick – or each class – should fit perfectly with the previous one until they reach the desired teaching objectives. As a teacher, your goal is to communicate the desired learning objectives of the overall course, so each class should be structured to add-up to this end point.
Engagement follows successful learning, and the successfully learned skills or knowledge of your students can be exhibited through exercises where the skills they have learned can be practiced.
After each successfully learned segment of the course, allow students to show both themselves and yourself the use of their new knowledge. Affirming student learning will promote their engagement with the course.
One way to do this is with the use of interactive demonstrations, quizzes and short tests, which should reflect what has been taught. Tests like these, though they don’t need to be overly formal, can be used as a method of measuring the success of the students in meeting their learning goals.
Collaboration can also be used to demonstrate their learning. Learners can work together to produce work to show the class. Projects that require co-operation between two or more students are ideal ways for learners to practice the methods of the classroom.
It is the duty of the teacher of an eLearning course to make themselves available to be contacted as easily as possible. The lack of support for eLearning causes quick drop offs in engagement when the going gets tough. Students who cannot find support will suffer.
Learner-to-learner access points such as online forums are ideal. Questions can be asked and answered, answers can be sought between students, and teachers can log-in to ensure full comprehension if needed.
Learner-to-teacher access is always a big help. Email is frequently the easiest and most manageable route to achieve good communication. As the teacher, you can use email to send out additional resources or class notes. Actions such as these keep students engaged in the course and receptive to instruction. With online courses, student drop-out rates are higher than face-to-face classes but with continued communication to promote a sense of involvement and intention in their learning, students can become fully engaged with their course.
So there we have it. Though we cannot tell you exactly how to go about planning your online course, these steps should help you to tailor a course in a way that will maximize the engagement of pupils. This will help students to learn and enjoy the process more completely, and bring increased success to your teaching.