Return to writing eLearning

I have started my Master eLearning course and it has been great. Module 1 was about planning and designing elearning and was not very exciting, as is often the case with introductions – it was all about engaging stakeholders and maximising their input etc. The assignments were: a TNA which was framed in terms of why, what, who, when and how questions, an approach I really liked, a comparison of 2 authoring tools and 2 LMS systems and design of an eLearning course focusing on choosing appropriate mode/s of delivery and why the topic is suitable for elearning. The design requirement was far less detailed than for TAE and I got a bit carried away with the detail.

Module 2 is developing eLearning and is lots of fun. It’s really made me want my old job back with new skills and new technology and I’m starting to put a few feelers out. I see with new eyes the problems with my old work (some I already knew about whereas others have just become evident to me.) I’ve also realised that a lot of the instructional ideas I had were basically on track – it was more the execution that was not so good. Major problems were that it was often content-driven rather than learner-centric, had too few opportunities for practice and was not broken down into small enough chunks. Visual design was also very poor.

There has been a lot more instructional design theory than I expected, which was great, so I’ve now been exposed to several different models. I came to the realisation that ADDIE is a system design model but doesn’t focus on how to engage the learners, which is a separate vital ingredient to a successful course. Gagne’s 9 events of instruction and its reduced rapid elearning equivalent model are the focus for the development stage. I wrote in my Connect blog about this topic which I’ve quoted below.

‘Following on from my post last week about the use of Gagné’s nine events of instruction as an instructional design (ID) model for converting an f2f course to eLearning (article here), I had an ‘a-ha’ moment while working through module 1 of the Master E-learning course. I think I now understand the reason and why it is recommended to do your own research into models. ADDIE, which seems to be the best known model, is actually an instructional systems design model and seen by some as more of a framework rather than an ID model (, slide 19.) ADDIE informs how to go through the entire process of producing learning materials whereas models such as Gagné’s focus mainly on the first D in ADDIE, the design phase. They spell out an approach for optimal engagement of learners in detail over multiple steps. In the case of converting an f2f course to an eLearning format, this is the main area of interest – making material engaging for learning in a different environment. Although the same steps will be followed, a different approach will be needed and thus Gagné’s model with its focus on learners is appropriate. In contrast, the I and E stages of ADDIE will vary less and so the model is less appropriate.’ I followed up by getting brave and posting in this LinkedIn discussion and was pleased with the responses to my comment.

Module 2 allows us a 60 day trial license for Articulate. We had a webinar on getting started, concentrating on Engage and Quizmaker, which in retrospect was perfect. I got some ideas of the basic options and haven’t had to go looking for support too often. Some parts of Articulate are less flexible than I would like, particularly with images, but it’s really easy to learn and use. I’m obviously building the course required for my assessment but I also contacted Cathy Beck and am building a basic thoracic radiography tutorial for them with the hope of using it as a showcase to try to get some money and support to do more.

In building the clinical pathology course I’m using quite a few of the ideas from the module which I would not have done prior to doing the course – a vet asking the nurse through speech boxes to preform tasks (acting as a mentor figure),  following the rapid eLearning model by gaining attention by asking if they can help a sick animal, then explaining what skills they will be learning, following up with the outcome of the case and some questions and  encouraging them to try their new skills in the clinic.

I’m learning a lot from looking at other work. This article was great – different designs of the same scenario. This sentence summed up a huge part of my informal learning from this year: “What I find most inspiring is the individuality brought to each solution. The unique ideas shared in this challenge – a pre-test, a motivating campaign, varying levels of scaffolding, an acronym for easy recall – demonstrate that instructional designs can be enhanced by other viewpoints.” Another quote “All four designs have commonalities such as compelling story lines, practice-based activities, resources, and performance support solutions”

The main takeaway messages for me were: the ideas listed above, PDF notes of all the knowledge, the great graphics they all had and (In Judy Unrein’s one I really like the question boxes – need to find out what software she used), a mobile job aid and decreasing level of mentor support as the learner progresses.

Another good learning experience has been this discussion. Brave chap but there have been some good suggestions.


About rebekahmcbrown

I am a veterinarian with a special interest in instructional design and developing eLearning in the veterinary and medical areas. I write teaching materials for both face-to-face and online learning as well as writing and editing articles.
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