When designed and delivered appropriately, eLearning courses can be highly engaging and useful to students. Any course that engages its learners, will invariably result in being an effective teaching tool.
To be truly successful, however, online courses must include certain hallmarks:
- They should support the overall business objective for which they are being created
- They should contribute to actual improvement in learner’s behavior or knowledge; and
- Motivate learners to embrace them
Here is how instructional designers can use the ADDIE model to create effective eLearning experiences for their learners.
Each stage of the ADDIE methodology (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation), along with its associated sub-processes, can be leveraged to ensure that the end product – the eLearning course package – is highly effective, and delivers a pleasant learning experience to its target audience.
A multi-level analysis should be conducted (Needs Analysis, Target Audience Analysis, Task and Topic Analysis). To be effective, the analysis must look at the “as is” and “to be” processes, and identify performance gaps.
Next, if performance gaps become apparent, instructional designers must design the course to provide effective learning outcomes. In addition to learning objectives and evaluations, special attention must be paid to graphics, user-interface and interactivity to deliver a rich learning experience.
Once the design has been approved (by course sponsors), use it as a road map to develop highly engaging content and supporting learning materials. It is very important to be liberal in using video, graphics and other forms of interactivity, so learners continue to be engaged and challenged.
The content must now be delivered to the audience. Make sure you test and implement the solution on various platforms (Desktops and Mobile devices, such as Tablets and Smartphones) for user convenience. Also, check for Accessibility and cross-OS compatibility (Chrome, FireFox, MS Edge, Android etc.)
The proof of the pudding is in the eating – as the old saying goes. ELearning course evaluations must test effectiveness through a multi-level process, including: Feedback from learners; Reactions from instructors; Achievement of learning objectives; Transfer of learning into on-the-job performance skills; overall impact on the organization; and Tangible Return On Investment (ROI)
An Iterative Process
To use ADDIE effectively in creating meaningful and engaging eLearning experiences, disciplined iteration of all of its main processes and sub-processes is required. For instance, if there are obstacles or technical barriers discovered during the development phase, instructional designers should not hesitate to push the project back into the Design phase.
Additionally, a truly effective course may be the product of several iterations of a single process. For instance, the initially developed course may reveal several shortcomings during testing or pilot runs. If the course meets its “effectiveness” objectives discussed at the beginning of this article, instructional designers must be willing to re-visit all or select aspects of the design, and rectify the identified deficiencies, before pushing the module/s back into testing or pilot runs.