Part 7 of an 8-part series from Clive Shepherd, looking at Universal Design principles…
Use cases, problems, exercises, scenarios, simulations or whatever it takes to provide the learner with the opportunity to test out the new material and, where relevant, to build skill. The more realistic you can make these activities the better.
Unless you’re developing materials that are intended purely for reference, you’ll achieve far better results if you engage your learners with meaningful, challenging interactions. These interactions can be used to build on the learner’s prior knowledge and help them on the path to new learning; they can provide opportunities for practice; they can also be used to assess progress. Without meaningful and challenging interaction, your materials could easily be ignored or forgotten.
Meaningful interaction helps maintain the learner’s attention and aids retention of the content. Meaningful interactions are those that ask the learner to work with your material in a context that is comparable to their real-work situation. Questions that simply check for recall of information that has just been presented are not meaningful.
Interactions that are not challenging will insult the intelligence of your learners. On the other hand, interactions that are too challenging will leave them baffled and deflated.
Be aware that there are limitations to what you can test validly using a quiz, particularly when your objective is for competent performance rather than knowledge acquisition. The reliability of your assessment may also be questionable if you test the learner right after you have taught new material, because many of the learner’s answers will come from short-term memory. On the other hand, we know managers often want to see some record of achievement – however reliable – and that may well go for some learners too.
About the Author:
Clive Shepherd is a consultant with an interest in all aspects of technology-assisted learning and communication. He is a regular speaker and contributor to conferences and publications throughout the E-Learning world.