E-learning Curriculum Design – Learning Chunks

Designing curriculum for the classroom is very different from designing e-learning curriculum.  One of the challenges for learners is that designers tend to make the serious mistake of creating large learning chunks.

Just so that we’re all the same page here, a learning chunk is section or part of a lesson plan that has a defined beginning, middle, and end.  It may an introduction to the larger topic, or it may be a part of the topic.

Learning chunks should be small, or as I say, bite sized.  In the classroom this can mean one PowerPoint slide, but in e-learning, many designers are making the mistake of simply dumping information on the learn in a long, seemingly endless stream of information.

Good curriculum designers create an outline of the topic and then break the topic into bricks.  These bricks consist of many learning chunks.  Each learning chunk must have reinforced a specific point and each learning chunk should build on previous learning chunks.

When creating learning chunks try to imagine that you are building a strong brick wall.  Each brick is linked to or upholds another brick.  Learning chunk are a microcosm of the bricks, and without the learning chunks the bricks would have not substance, resulting in a collapsed wall.

For classroom based learning, it is suggested that learning strategies change every 15 to 20 minutes.  In e-learning, the student is a passive recipient of information, and therefore is easily distracted.  Creating small, five minute learning chunks is a way to combat boredom and increase material retention.

Chunks can end in quick quizzes or an interactive component.  Don’t use the same ending strategy for each learning chunk or even for each brick.  The learner will eventually begin to think, “Here comes another quiz,” or whatever method you choose.

Learners don’t like to be bored, so it is the job of the curriculum designer to find a variety of ways to present information using chunks and bricks to help the learn along on their journey through academia.



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