Recently, I've been working on an online course with a lot of information present. While taking a step away from the project, I found myself asking the question, "Is this arrangement of information the best we can do?" While this is a question that many IDers face, I did not know exactly how to handle this situation. I turned to the recent publication of "157 Tips: Improving eLearning Design" by the eLearning Guild. One of the submissions focused on using action mapping from Cathy Moore's blog to help drill down the major ideas or themes you want your learners to know. Seeing as how this was up my alley, I decided to check out her blog post on Action Mapping (found here).
I found my current project was already making the first two mistakes.
1. "Our goal is to increase knowledge."
Cathy Moore's Action Mapping focuses on not only knowledge alone, but knowledge as a measurable outcome (relevant activities, crucial content, actions people must take to get to the goal, designing real world practice activities). The main takeaway from Cathy's Action Mapping was understanding and getting down to the bare minimum in step four, "Identify what people really, really need to know."
Once you have this bare minimum - only include activities that directly support the information being presented. If the activity is not essential for the information being presented, or if the activity is not realistic in the "real world," don't include it. When you tightly focus your materials on essential information (especially in an online format), learners will not feel overwhelmed or misguided.
That's it for this week. I hope to implement some of the ideas presented in Cathy's approach for this online course and try some new presentation concepts when pitching some ideas to the faculty member in charge.