5 Elements of Effective E-Learning

15144285_s

It’s pretty easy for students to click through powerpoint slides or listen to an online lecture, but will the knowledge really stick? How can instructors present course material and design review questions in such a way that students will retain the information?

To shed light on this question, SmartBuilder.com identifies 5 elements that make eLearning most effective:

  1. Learner-Centric Design, which focuses on what students should be able to do upon completion of the program (as opposed to a content-centric approach, which places greater emphasis on the amount and quality of material covered).

    In a learner-centric approach, the instructor determines which skills the students will need to master, and then breaks down those skills into sub-tasks. Throughout the course, students are presented with realistic scenarios and encounter relevant challenges so as to learn how to deal with them.

  2. Intrinsic Feedback – When a student answers a question correctly or incorrectly, the subsequent feedback should be similar to the feedback the students would receive in a real-life scenario. For example, when a business student answers a question correctly about how to properly treat a customer, the e-Learning module can show an image or animation of a smiling customer – rather than just displaying “Correct!” on the screen.
  3. Delayed Feedback – Before marking a student’s answer as right or wrong, it’s a good idea to gives the student a chance to reflect why he or she chose that answer. This process of reflection helps to deepen a student’s understanding of the material.
  4. Case Studies and Branching Scenarios – After learning new information or skills, students should be given the chance to apply their knowledge to real-life scenarios. The situations may include branching scenarios so that students can practice making decisions and seeing the consequences of their choices.
  5. Motivation – Students are more motivated to pay attention and succeed in their studies if they understand why the material is important and relevant to their life and career goals. To promote absorption of the knowledge, instructors can tell students why each activity will help them achieve something they care about. Students will also feel more motivated if they play educational games that include elements of risk or drama.

For more details and examples of how to implement these 5 elements into eLearning modules, see the What is Effective eLearning? on Smartbuilder.com.

Using a Triad Approach to Student Assessments to Promote More Meaningful Learning

14333858_s

We usually think of testing and grading as a responsibility that lies uniquely in the domain of the professor; after teaching a chunk of material, professors must administer tests to determine how well each student understood the material.

However, as the world of education shifts toward a more learner-centered approach, many educators are beginning to view assessments as an interactive process rather than merely a process of transmission from teacher to student. When students are more involved in evaluating their own work and the work of their peers, they are better able to form a meaningful connection with course material.

To establish a system of meaningful feedback, educational researchers recommend incorporating the following 3 elements into every course:

  1. Self-reflection – students judge their own performance and determine how they can improve.
  2. Peer feedback – students evaluate the work of their peers and offer suggestions for improvement.
  3. Instructor assessments – professors provide ongoing, specific, and meaningful feedback to guide students toward better performance.

Fortunately, many digital tools are available to enable students and professors to collaborate online during the assessment process.

To understand more about the triad approach to assessments and how digital tools can be used to provide feedback, see Investigating How Digital Technologies Can Support a Triad-Approach for Student Assessment in Higher Education by Norman Vaughan of Mount Royal University.