SHIFT's eLearning Blog

Our blog provides the best practices, tips, and inspiration for corporate training, instructional design, eLearning and mLearning.

All Posts

Six Key Ingredients of Learner-centered eLearning Courses

learner-centeredSeveral studies revealed, time and again, that a student-centered approach to learning is far more superior than any other methods of instruction. This booklet published by the Cambridge University Press, for instance, found that such approach helps students cultivate a “can do” attitude. It allows for autonomous, active learning. Autonomy, positive psychologist notes, is key to motivation. It’s what makes people wake up in the morning and do the work they love.

The learner, after all, has his/her own unique situation, personality or set of experiences. These personal factors significantly influence how learners retain information, interact with fellow learners, solve problems and apply knowledge. Taking a teacher-centered or a content-centered approach while ignoring students is a surefire recipe for failure. Obviously, information is important and critical to learning. But information is only part of the formula. eLearning courses need to understand learners. 

Here's how to make your courses more learner-centered and more learner-driven:

learner-centered design

1) Challenge

Challenges, without a doubt, stimulate the brain. They force the learner to think about their previous knowledge, process the new information, reflect, and then make a decision. Learners who face appropiately challenging decisions require them to apply knowledge, not just recall it.

As an eLearning developer your main goal is to engage learners and challenge their understanding at all times. To include this element, focus on the question: “What challenges will students face along the way, and what can they do after completing the course?” 

2) Engagement

Forget clicking! Engagement goes beyond clicking a mouse. Genuine engagement happens inside the brain. It’s called thinking. You can easily encourage students to think by adding moments of thoughtful reflection in your program. Make them pause for a while and ask them how the content they have just consumed relates to their work. The content has to reach them intellectually and emotionally as well. Only this kind of deep and meaningful engagement allows for lasting change to happen.

There are many ways to engage students. You can drop them into real or imaginary situations where they have to decide using your material. Use case-based learning and scenarios that get the learner to analyze  information and put it within a frame of reference. The skill of making sound and reasonable decisions is definitely an outcome of a learner-centric approach.

3) Personalization

A learner-centered approach, first and foremost, is personal. It takes into account the real situation of your student, not everyone’s ideal student. You may find that learners doing your course prefer reading to listening. Or you may discover that majority of learners who complete your program appreciate on-time feedback through emails.

Students have different learning styles and come from diverse backgrounds. It only makes sense to make your material suitable or fit for their needs than ask them to adapt to your course. Such adaptability has to be part of the design. Package your content in multiple formats for people to learn from – videos, graphs, charts, quizzes, activities and so on. This will help you to reach each type of learner. Get to know your learners before creating the course. Ask them questions about their educational background, interest and goals.

4) Control

All of the elements mentioned earlier won’t work if you don’t give students a sense of control and responsibility. You need to empower learners. Learners who can control their own pace and pick what they want to learn are much more effective than learners who passively receive instructions from the teacher. Trust that your students will spend more time on chapters or sections they have not yet mastered.

5) Collaboration

Learning isn’t a solitary activity. Learning is a symbiotic relationship. We learn in a group inside a classroom, with a partner, or from an author. Let students collaborate with each other by giving them opportunities to actively seek and share information, construct meaningful insights, produce a diverse set of ideas and appreciate multiple perspectives. Encourage dialogue and social interaction so that they can take ownership in the learning process. By introducing the element of collaboration you are at the same time encouraging students to learn more from each other.

6) Relevance

Relevance has a lot to be with student-material connection. Every course should address a learner’s current needs or learning gaps. Will your course resonate among students? Will they find it both useful and meaningful? Make sure they answer yes to these questions before you hit publish. Otherwise, ask them for feedback and modify your course to accommodate their needs. It is the goal of learner-centred eLearning courses to bridge the gap between what is learned and the real world. 

Final Takeaway:

The core of eLearning design is centered on the interest of the learner. Learners should be active participants, they should be able to learn at their own pace and use their own learning techniques. As well, learning needs to be more personalized than standardized. But most importantly, problem-solving, critical thinking and reflective thinking are at the core of the learning process. 

eLearning visual design course
Click me
Karla Gutierrez
Karla Gutierrez
Karla is an Inbound Marketer @Aura Interactiva, the developers of SHIFT. ES:Karla is an Inbound Marketer @Aura Interactiva, the developers of SHIFT.

Related Posts

The Key Components of a Learner-Friendly eLearning Course

It's so easy to assume the content is all that matters in an eLearning course. But, how information is presented affects its effectiveness. The design, for instance, influences how students interact with information. Think about one of your existing eLearning course designs: Is it too cluttered? Or is it designed to properly guide learners toward clear goals? 

  • 6 min read
  • Wed, Sep 22, 2021 @ 05:55 PM

How to Turn Your Employees into Lifelong Learners

A fat paycheck? Yes, but not always. The corner office within the next five years? Yes sure, but what about now? 401(k) plan. Health and dental insurance. Paid vacation. Well, these would be nice. What do you think is the single biggest factor that motivates employees to recommend their company as THE place to work for young, ambitious people? According to Bersin by Deloitte’s research with Glassdoor, learning, and career opportunities are accorded the highest priorities by employees. Clearly, employees know that in an ever-changing and volatile workplace, there is only ONE way to make oneself indispensable. Keep growing. Keep learning. Innovate consistently. Employees have not failed to learn from the examples around them. Companies like Yahoo,  BlackBerry, Blockbuster failed to keep up with the times. The result: they continued to lag till the day when they were forced to give up. Innovation is the game-changer. It is true not only for organizations but also for individuals. This is why companies are able to lure valuable employees away from their rivals with the promise of training opportunities. As an HR or training professional, you have to keep your employees interested in working for the company by providing them with ample learning opportunities. They need to improve their skills, increase productivity, and be on top of their game, so your business can out-innovate its rivals, tide over disruptions, and respond to market changes.

  • 13 min read
  • Wed, Sep 15, 2021 @ 04:44 PM

Don't Frustrate Your Learners! 7 Rules for Creating User-Friendly eLearning

What if the secret to life existed but was locked in a box that no one could open? Well, you’d pretty much just have a box, wouldn’t you? And that is also what you have when you design an eLearning course without taking usability into consideration. It matters little how relevant information in a course might be if your audience can’t access that information. While engaging students and making sure content is entirely covered are critical parts of course success, it is just as important to go through and make sure your user interface (UI) ducks are in a row. Taking the time to go through and check for user-friendliness will help ensure that your students don’t lose out just because the course is difficult to navigate. Keep in mind that an eLearning course often isn’t a choice for most people. They are taking this because they have to and will have little patience for guesswork. Make it clear what the user needs to do in order to advance in the course. Learning is difficult enough without the added annoyance of having to hunt for what to click on.