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Activity based vs. information based elearning

A lot of elearning involves creating something that conveys a lot of information to an audience. Usually this is because a client needs to solve an issue, and they feel it’s important to present to their learners, most likely employees, a lot of information that will help those people do whatever it is that they need to do to solve the problem. The elearning is a way to package that information in a convenient format to get learners to absorb the content.

However, this approach is asking the wrong questions. The issue usually isn’t ‘our learners don’t have enough information’, it’s ‘our learners need to change something about what they are already doing’, or ‘our learners need to think about and apply things they already know’. The difference is that when you think of an issue as change in learner behaviour (something that is usually outlined in the course objectives), instead of giving a learner more information, that we can start to design elearning activities that will actually drive this change in behaviour.

Once you have created relevant activities to what the learner needs to do in the real word, only then do you add the most necessary information for the learner to actually accomplish the task. The elearning could also encourage the learner to find and use that information on their own motivation. This style of elearning will help you get away from creating a bunch of click-and-reveals and timed bullet points, and have your learners do the things that the learning objectives want them to do.

This is especially important for adult learners, as it incorporates the real-world applications of what the elearning is for, which is an essential factor in having adult learners buy into the time and effort investment for taking the elearning.

For instance, you could present the elearning as a series of decisions in a scenario. Allowing your learner to choose from several possible actions is more engaging than asking your learner “What is the correct answer?” In this case, the learner is asked to consider the possible outcomes of their action, rather than parrot back the information from earlier learning.

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