Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Moving from Linear to Non-linear Courses: 3 Simple Tips

We have all witnessed the recent paradigm shift from linear to non-linear e-learning courses. Well, this means that instructional designers are all on their toes struggling to create non-linear designs. Creating designs that allow learners to explore knowledge through challenges and decision making, definitely is not an easy task. So what really needs to be kept in mind while choosing the non-linear approach?

Try these 3 simple tips:

Focus on Action Oriented Designing

We have all learnt many things in life that have not been taught to us by anyone. Well, this simply means we have learnt from direct experiences, or by dealing with things as they came our way, finally discovering what was it that was important at that point of time. We made connections between things that we already knew and stuff that we learnt through experiences. This simply means we constructed our knowledge as and when we needed it. We took decisions and then put them into action, irrelevant of whether we went right or wrong, we learnt out of them.

Similarly, while designing a non-linear course, we need to remember this fact of life. Position learners in a situation where they need to take certain decisions and make relevant actions to progress in the course. No matter what decision they take, land them up into a result by which they understand whether their decision was right or wrong. This creates an impact on the learners, helping them relate to the content in a better way.

Provide Relevant and Timely Feedback

We make mistakes, receive criticism from people around us for our mistakes and learn lessons from of them. This is how all of us grew up. Isn’t it?

Knowledge through experience along with appropriate and timely feedback is essential for any type of learning. And this should be considered as one of the most important aspects if you are trying hard to design an effective non-linear e-learning course.

Back the learners’ action with relevant feedback as they progress in a course. This enables them to increase their level of skill and knowledge. Use the right feedback strategy based on the situation. Analyze and understand when you need to provide an immediate feedback and when a delayed feedback can be useful.

Maintain Knowledge and Challenge Proportion

Most importantly, it is essential that the skill and knowledge of the learners’ grow in direct proportion with the level of challenges coming their way, as the course progresses. If the challenges surpass the learners’ skill, they might end up being de-motivated. And, if the learners’ skill surpasses the level of challenges, then they might simply get bored. Remember to test the learners’ and allow them to demonstrate their skills acquired at each level before they move to the next level or module of a course.

Please feel free to share links of interesting non-linear courses that you have developed. If you have any more ideas about non-linear courses then do write to us through comments below.

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