Debunking Learner Progression in eLearning
Many eLearning programs force learners to view and interact with all the content in a specific sequence. Does this promote knowledge transfer though? Not always.
Most learners view effective learning as experiences where they can engage with the content on their own terms. This is a key principle of adult learning theory – which requires learning and content to be relevant to a learner.
Customizing access to learning content means meeting learners where they are at - wherever that is in their career journey. In an AI-enabled world of work, we ought to nurture curiosity, so denying a learner access to information doesn’t make much sense.
How to approach compulsory training content
Many learning programs contain compulsory content that must be covered for compliance purposes. These types of programs use forced learning progression as the default. How can you customize the learning experience while still adhering to compliance requirements?
Use branching to allow learners to discover content in a non-linear way, while setting parameters for a “completed” status. Every experience can be unique, based on learner choices.
ASSESSMENTS AND QUIZZES
Use quizzes and assessment to determine what a learner should cover next. This approach keeps internal motivation in mind, while being interactive – giving the learner ownership of process of closing their identified skills gaps.
If learners must cover content, how about giving them options by presenting material in different ways? You can use articles, case studies, videos, simulations to cover the content according to unique preferences.
When is Free-Reign a bad idea?
“The whole point of human-centered design is to tame complexity...” Donald Norman
Research on learning design concludes that learners covering very complex or highly technical content benefit from simple navigation and limited customization options. It all comes down to managing cognitive load.
Simple, straightforward progression and navigation minimizes “noise” that distracts the learner from the actual learning process. [Minimizing extraneous cognitive load.] For instance, trying to figure out how to navigate or having to make choices about topics to cover, creates distracting noise.
By chunking information and building knowledge incrementally, you maximize germane load. This is the good kind of cognitive load that helps a learner to make sense of and integrate information, by linking it to existing mental schemas or creating new ones.
So before jumping on the “customized” learning design wagon, consider your content and program objectives.