If you’re about to design an e-learning course, you should definitely consider content chunking as a method for organizing course material and making a more efficient use of learner memory.
Putting data into groups is an excellent strategy for making it more digestible to learners – especially if concepts in question are complex and feature many different components. However, although it might sound so simple, content chunking is far more than simply putting all the information in your course into small, easily digestible groups. Here are 5 essential content chunking strategies to help you improve your e-learning course.
Prioritize your content
When designing your course, you’ll face lots of information. Naturally, you’ll need to decide which pieces of data are most important and should find their way to the course materials. Don’t include information just for the sake of filling a blank page. Instead, make a careful selection and remove content which will only distract learners from getting the point of the unit. When it comes to course design, less is always more.
Keep learner working memory in mind
It’s clear that working memory has a limit. That’s why you should never overwhelm learners with too much new information given at the same time. Accommodate the function of working memory by including content that is relevant and carefully chosen. Visuals are your friend here – they’re quick and easy to process. Your goal is to provide just enough information to get learners interested in the topic.
Organize your content
Once you come up with a correct content prioritization, you’re practically ready to tackle the problem of organization. Take some time to plan your course materials – this is the basic thing every instructional designer does before embarking on the adventure of e-learning design. This is about the course structure and look. What elements can be used on the screen at the same time? How to ensure that the content has a rational flow?
Your best strategy is to start with basic concepts and gradually move to cover more complex ideas which are based on the understanding of this initial knowledge. Make sure that each concept includes enough information and is conveyed with different media (videos, images, podcasts, audio or other). All these formats are bound to reduce memory demands of the course and improve learner understanding of the topic.
Now that you’ve figured out the general structure and look of your materials, it’s time to categorize all your content. Group information into modules and then divide these modules into sections to foster learner understanding. Sometimes your content might be composed of a number of unrelated facts. If that’s the case, try to see what they have in common and connect them – otherwise, this will become the task of learners, who might not feel up to it. Grouping concepts together, you’ll design an e-learning course which has clear topics and modules that help learners make their way through a space of unrelated information.
Use bullet and numbered lists
This is a simple organization trick that helps to organize your content without losing the general order. If you’ve got a chunk of information and have no idea how to make sense of it, use bullet and numbered lists. They’re readable and clearly present key data to learners, improving knowledge processing and retention. Learners facing a long paragraph might get easily discouraged. If you split it visually into a bullet list, they’re far more likely to skim the content and then dig into it deeper when the right occasion strikes. Still, even while browsing learners will retain some knowledge – and that’s the best thing about these lists.
Content chunking is one of your best solutions for ensuring that your course brings real learning benefits to its users. Your job is to make knowledge as accessible and clear as possible – and strategies like content prioritization, organization and grouping are all there to help you do it.
Author: Simone Smith is an experienced marketing specialist, a blogger and a great fan of learning and memory games. Currently, she works for Online Courses Australia where she shares her stories about career development and self-improvement.