5 Elements of Effective E-Learning


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.

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