Thursday, January 7, 2010

Understanding a learners motivation and percieved importance of the content in designing course navigation.

A major discussion at the e-learning guild linkedin group has been around hiding a 'next' button with the intention of making the user complete some activity before being allowed to move on. The idea here is that users will be forced into focusing on the material rather than skipping through.

Lots of ideas for this have been brought up such as multiple choice questions, true / false, a timer, drag drop, and so on. Obviously whatever learning exercise that fits the content best will work in getting the user to stop for a second and take in the content. Do we need to do this? My opinion is that this technique should be used when we perceive our target learners motivation for the content to be low.

What situations fit this scenario:
  • Internal Training for new company policies.
  • Courses with no certification, or penalty for incompletion BUT the user is being forced to take.
  • Online courses with multiple attempts at assessments where a user is more likely to attempt trial and error to get the completion. (I call this the 'Mastermind Learner')
  • Courses with dry content that fail to engage the user

What situations do not fit:

  • Courses that the user has willingly enrolled in
  • Courses with a high cost/penalty to the user
  • Courses that have been written and developed to engage the user through audio, video, animation, and well written content.

Not all courses have exciting topics, not all courses will have users that wanted to take them, and not all courses will be full of multimedia. It is the development teams responsibility understand a learner's motivation and more importantly their "Perceived Importance of the Content", and then implement a navigation strategy that fits the users willingness to absorb the material.

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