How engaging is your eLearning content?

Angestellter auf Laptop eingeschlafen

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In the late 1990s online education was going to revolutionise the way higher education institutions delivered learning.  At that time hardcopy materials (pdfs and powerpoints) were uploaded to learning management systems and this was how ‘elearning’ courses were presented.  Known then as ‘shovel- ware’ – an information dump of static content and electronic page turning.

The delivery of content in this format evokes a passive consumption of information, that allows little to no interaction or engagement.

Sadly, not much has changed in the past 20 years in the design and delivery of online education.  Today many higher education institutions have implemented policies that mandate the recording of lectures or the production of voice over powerpoints (VOPPs) and these are the ‘standard’ delivery format of elearning resources.  The most interactivity a student will experience is ‘click the next button’.

The potential of digital technologies offers so much more, it provides the opportunity to move from the ‘transmission’ of content to enabling students to actively engage, interact and ‘create knowledge’.

With the advances in technology, and the potential of technology enhanced learning why are we still trying to emulate the traditional didactic lecture IN the ‘online space’?

  1. Being constrained by clunky learning management systems and basic authoring software
  2. Poor understanding of the principles of learning design and effective #presentationskills
  3. Lack of faculty support and professional development in terms of technology enhanced learning, digital or Web 2.0 teaching tools, best practice in online design
  4. Lack of institutional resources to create online content from scratch (born digital content)
  5. Adoption of across the board policies and work procedures that constrain the development of interactive approaches to design eg mandatory recording of lectures and voice of powerpoint (VOPPs)
  6. Little student engagement in the design process
  7. Implications of  how the digital savvy student learns best. (anywhere anytime access/short information chunks/influence of social media)
  8. Little reference to learning theory and elearning pedagogy

Learning management systems


Current issues:

  • Majority are antiquated systems designed by an out of date’folder’ structure
  • Poor navigation and not being user friendly deters both faculty and students from using the system
  • aren’t aligned with current web 2.0 approaches that enhance user experience and communication and collaboration

Faculty support – what is needed?

  • We need to value, develop and engage academic staff to embrace innovative teaching practice and develop skills to design effective elearning content and deliver active face to face learning experiences with in-class technology
  • How to integrate social media and free open access resources in the delivery of their education programs.
  • To work closely with academics to identify the optimal educational options for delivery using blended learning models, web 2.0 tools & learning design approaches to create immersive digital learning experiences.

blended learning and assessment framework

  • Back to the basics regarding presentation skills

Born digital content – content designed from scratch


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  • What are the objectives, what are the learning outcomes.
    • What is the learner going to do with the content – what activities can be included to move the learner from a static/passive observer and consumer of information to active involvement and engagement.
  • The story – relevant to the learner, authentic conversational.
  • Visual design, the selection of media/ images/video/audio. How will the media best represent the content or learning activity.
  • What is the sequence of activities, questions, feedback.
    • Creating decision making scenarios
    • Embedding decision points/decision paths that reflect the complexities of the task.
    • Incorporating feedback that help learners build models that they can transfer to the work environment.

Storyboard is the first step to bring all these elements together.

With the inclusion of authentic stories and relevant context online content can be dynamic, interactive and thought provoking.  See creating eLearning in medical education

Student engagement – students as co-creators of content

  • Students to be actively involved in the implementation of TEL strategies, providing ideas and suggestions that will enrich their learning experience
  • Value student contribution in the teaching process and promote students as co-creators of content
  • Engage students in learning design and content creation, scaffold with design workshops, background in learning theory and principles of online design.


  • Provide opportunities for students to gain experiences using the tools to create eLearning content
  • Opportunities to create content, showcase and use as resources for future students

See students as co-creators and doctor as digital teacher

Relevance of learning theory


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