Any seasoned instructional designer will tell you that elearning development cannot be approached in the same manner across multiple courses – even if the content is identical. The ultimate deciding factor in how content is presented always comes down to the target audience.
Tailoring course content for the audience is one of the more difficult parts of course creation. While you may be able to accurately define the target audience, there are always sub-groups within that you should consider as well. These sub-groups come with different backgrounds and experiences.
From a corporate standpoint, creating elearning for an audience is challenging, but not nearly as challenging as creating elearning for kids. What keeps kids engaged with course content is often different than what adults have come to expect over the years.
If you have to create elearning for kids, then you should first have a clear understanding on the age-group who will be taking the course. For adult learneres, age is not necessarily a factor. For kids however, their cognitive development is vastly different at age six than it is compared to a child who is 12 years of age.
Don’t believe me? Have a look at the toys that are offered on the market today. The toys for a 12-year-old differ quite a bit than those designed for a six-year-old. In fact, the toy market gives you a good indication for the age “groupings” that you should consider for your elearning as many toy boxes will give an appropriate age range (i.e. “For children 3-5 years old”).
Young children are not very good at sitting through lectures and remembering key points. They learn best by doing – through games and interaction (in some ways this applies to adults too).
Implementing different game systems is a good way to encourage a child through an online course. Be careful though as sometimes children can become overly fixated on this concept.
No matter what the course content, you should look to incorporate some live teaching (even if just a recap) with any online course intended for a young audience. It will go a long way in determining the effectiveness of the elearning in the first place, and also help to bring others up-to-speed in the event that they are not entirely grasping the content.
In the end, if you’re task is to create online courses for children, you should certainly research effective teaching styles for the age-group you are targeting. Consulting with school teachers is a great place to start.