Elearning courses should always consider who the learners are. There are a lot of strategies that can make an online course successful. But one recurring strategy is taking into consideration the learners that will use the course. The only variation will be in the extent of the influence that the audience will have on the creation of the course.
Learner control and Program control
In an online course, there are two types of control that battle for dominance: learner control and program control.
A learner-controlled online course means the learner is able to control the learning experience. This includes choosing how the course should be taken – from the pace, content, and sequence. A program-controlled course, on the other hand, lets the program influence these three.
Since the popularity of elearning began to rise, the battle between the two control methods emerged. Instructors and educators are wondering which is more beneficial. Do you give control to the audience who are there to learn something new? After all, their lack of knowledge might keep them from learning what they need.
But then again, if you let the program control the learning experience, how sure are you that you can meet the expectations of the learners? It might be too fast or slow for them. That will be hard to determine if let the program control the whole thing.
There was a study done to help figure out which is more effective in learning orthodontics. According to the study, there was no significant difference between the groups that went through the learner-controlled course and the one that was given the program-controlled one.
Does this mean you can blindly choose between the two when creating an elearning course?
The answer to that is no.
What type of control should you use in elearning
The truth is, you do not really have to make a choice when it comes to the two. While there are lessons that are best taught through a learner-controlled or program-controlled courses, that does not mean you cannot combine them. But then again, how much control should be given to each?
Here are a couple of considerations.
What do they know?
First of all, you need to determine the level of knowledge foundation that they have. It may be easy to give them the reins and give them the freedom to navigate the learning experience. However, if they are completely unaware of what they should be doing, they might miss out on important lessons that were unknowingly skipped. They might end up feeling frustrated and give up on learning altogether.
If they have enough background on the lesson, it is okay to give them a learner-controlled elearning course. But the less they know means you have to make the course more program-controlled.
What are they trying to learn?
The next consideration is what are they trying to learn? Definitely, if the course is complex, you need to make the program take charge of the learning process. The complexity of the course might be too much and make the learner feel lost. Of course, that does not mean they should not have a certain level of control. Let them go back to previous segments if they need to refresh what they learned. Allow them to take control of the pace – especially if the course if difficult to comprehend. But as for everything else – sequence and content, let the program run the show.
The situation will vary depending on the type of elearning that will take place. Make sure you consider all the different options and the technology available to you before you finalize how the course will be delivered.
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