One of the major effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the move away from traditional classroom learning to e learning. All to frequently traditional courses have simply been uploaded as e courses and this has resulted in e courses that fail dismally in holding the attention of learners or delivering information effectively.
Recent research indicates that e courses offer significant advantages over traditional classroom methods. E courses are on average 50% more time efficient and learner retention rate is more than double that of traditional methods.
The fundamental decision to be made when transferring from traditional training to e courses is what form the e courses should take. Should they be Asynchronous where the participant has a delayed interaction with the instructor or, Synchronous which is an electronic replication of the class or lecture room? The former has the advantage that participants can plan their own schedule and assimilate the lessons at their own pace whereas the latter allows for video conferencing and group interaction together with the instructor. The possibility of combining both methods may be the most beneficial.
The act of transferring the traditional content to e learning is naturally very tempting but should be avoided as much as possible. Take care to re evaluate the objectives of the course and how the new material relates to it. Power point may be a great support for the classroom, but e learners will tend to skip through the slides unless they have been doctored to make them interesting and relevant.
Additional information may be required on slides to supplement the loss of the teacher. Also consider the sequence of delivered information. At this stage, a story board or blueprint of the course should be finalised, and it may be a good idea to have a look at some professional templates to assist in clarifying objectives.
Is the course going to introduce the primary objectives at the outset or is the sequence going to build up information and skills to arrive at the required objective? What is critical is that there is a natural flow to the content, and it is divided up into cohesive sections that engender a sense of certainty and allow for learners to become confident in their new knowledge.
Next consider the introduction of an evaluation system to the course. Can the course be compartmentalised so that participants can be assessed as they progress through the material? This also requires that the goals of the course be clearly and accurately defined as without this no accurate assessment of the learner’s comprehension can be made.
In the traditional classroom system assessments would have been the default method of evaluation but the e learning opens up so many new and exciting alternatives that bring the course to life. Consider making use of webcams or online discussions. Create links to relevant associated information or videos that add a touch of humour.
There are a number of design models to assist in moving from traditional to e learning and it would be wise to follow the example of the ADDIE system (analysis, design, develop, implement and evaluate) or to investigate the principals of instruction according to David Merrill, ( demonstrate, apply activate integrate, and engage).
These systems will provide guidelines based on a wealth of practical experience in moving from the classroom to e learning. Make sure you begin the process by organising your own team and the role that each member will be asked to fulfil. Play special attention to items where there is mutual responsibility as these can be the source of uncertainty as the course is developed.
Resist the urge to simply convert but rather evaluate and reinvent material using all the opportunities that multi-media offers. Replace long a tedious text with interactive graphics or allowing ‘mouse over’ text.
eLearning places far more control in the hands of the learner. It is important to understand that the learner has the ability to skip over text or content that appears irrelevant or boring so it essential that when making the transition from traditional to e learning that the new content is vibrant, interesting and relevant.