7 Better Learning Principles for Custom ELearning - A Free and Useful Guide for Instructional Designers
Dan Keckan

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There is a large contingent of instructional designers out there who are forced by their organizations’ lines of business to take orders and “design” eLearning courses. Stakeholders ask these well-intentioned instructional designers to become order-takers and apply learning objectives, knowledge checks and assessments to their PowerPoints and import them into a Storyline or Captivate published SCORM file.

Once it is loaded into the organization’s LMS it resides there in a deep blue abyss forever. Did I mention that these projects have a completion deadline of 2-3 weeks? Does this sound like you? It’s not your fault. Let me say it again, it’s not your fault! After all, you have a backlog of projects and only so many hours in a day to argue the merits of learner-centric and performance-focused eLearning

They were frustrated with bad eLearning that fails to live up to its promise of improving performance and creating measurable results. So they decided to come up with a set of 22 principles that reflect effective performance-focused eLearning that instructional designers should know and use. I’m a signatory and agree with every principle in the manifesto. However, it falls short of being a useful tool that instructional designers can use to evaluate their design throughout the project life cycle and make changes for the better.

There are other tools out there that evaluate the quality of instructional design based on performance-focused and learner-centric standards. Take the Quality Matters Rubric for instance. This tool is very advanced, has quality assurance standards, certification for designers, and even membership opportunities. However, it focuses primarily on academia not industry, it is very rigorous, and it can take almost as much time to evaluate your course than building the actual course. Therefore, I decided to come up with an evaluation tool for my team and I would like to share it with you. The evaluation tool is called the 7 Better Learning Principles Assessment (of course if someone comes up with a better name, I’m all ears).

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Whether it’s an online meeting, a presentation via webinar, or live online training, engagement is the main question on everyone’s mind: Will it be worth my time to attend, or will it be an opportunity to check email instead? Furthermore, is it effective learning? How do you make sure that your learners interact with the experience and are really learning?

Online meeting technology is powerful and has made it easy to connect with people from anywhere in the world at any time, yet L&D professionals often still struggle with getting everyone to interact. Interaction is the answer to successful engagement and using the features of the platform is the answer to interaction. However, the features alone do not engage the participants. It is what you choose to do with those features that will make the difference in your next virtual training, webinar, or meeting.

During this session, you will learn what you can do to be successful in the virtual environment and avoid having everyone ask for a recording or a copy of the slides five minutes into your next virtual event. You’ll analyze the activities demonstrated and brainstorm where the techniques could be applied to your virtual training programs. You’ll explore the specific challenges of managing the technology, and brainstorm solutions to the engagement problems you are likely to experience with your live online attendees when technical problems arise. Activities that align with better learning principles such as authentic, relevant, fun, accessible, timely, efficient, and engaging are the key to your success. Through them you’ll learn to manage the technology, get attendees to actively interact, and help presenters have a great time too!

Application on the Job
1. Define virtual learner engagement to effectively design the appropriate activities. 
2. Analyze activities for specific engagement techniques and feature usage to apply to your own activity design.
3. Create your own customized activities for immediate use in your virtual classroom programs. 
4. Design an experience that aligns with better learning principles including authentic, relevant, fun, accessible, timely, efficient, and engaging.

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