Keep Your Students Learning, Not Guessing

Justine Ickes
Nov 12, 2014 8:14:00 AM

Pro poker players know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. Adult online learners, however, are looking for answers, not sleights of hand. Read on for some ideas to make sure your next online course has a full deck of learning.


1. Hedge Your Bets

Some consumer learning courses require the student to complete all the modules and answer all the questions before they reach a final mastery test.


What’s the problem with that? Well, we know that people scan when browsing the internet. And they often breeze through e-courses.


Keep that rapid-fire behavior in mind when you’re building your online school and don’t wait until your final activity to make your big reveal. For example, let’s say you’re an insurance agent. You’ve gotten a lot of inquiries lately about professional liability coverage and you want to create a course to educate your clients. You could build a slideshow to outline the main risks and create a downloadable cheat sheet with the main points. To really reinforce the learning, you could invite students to share real life scenarios in your course’s discussion area.


Remember, deliver your core material in several formats — videos, slideshows, interactive images, discussion forums, worksheets — and build in plenty of opportunities for people to absorb what they’re learning.


2. Reward All Learners

Quizzes and interactive games can be great for keeping learners motivated and engaged in learning. But, these activities are often designed in such a way that they only benefit certain learners.


The people who already know the material will choose the right answer. But the folks who answer incorrectly? They’re left in the dark. What’s more, there’s no way for the students in this course to go back and choose again.


The result? The people who missed the right answer will simply click forward to the next question and never learn the information and skills they came for. The solution? Simple. Include explanatory text in the answer boxes for all the possible answers. And do this for each and every question.


No matter what response the learner chooses, she gets a note that either confirms her choice, or gives her a heads-up on the right answer. “Wait a second”, you might be thinking, “That’s just giving away the answers! What’s the point of that?” Well, you want people to learn, right? So, stop rewarding the brainiacs and penalizing the people who find the material more challenging. Give all learners as much help as you can by providing immediate feedback. Even better, tell your students exactly where they can learn more or review what they’ve missed.


A simple prompt, like the one below, can point them to the exact module:


“Still unclear about the difference between an allergy and asthma? Go back to module 2 and read the case studies.” Play your cards right and you can create winning e-courses that showcase your expertise and raise the learning jackpot for your clients.

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