November 5th, 2013 E-Learning

timed-course-deliveryWhen creating an online course, one of the most important decisions you can make is the order in which you will present your content.

Most people will map out their course structure using storyboarding templates and tools, a great time-saving technique that should be done before any elearning development begins.

However, there is often one component that is overlooked, and that’s the timing of information delivery.

Now for small courses this is not necessarily a requirement. You can create an elearning course and present all the lessons to the learner so that they can continue through at their own pace. But what do you do when there is a large amount of course content?

Many elearning developers will just create this content like any other course, but this could do more damage than good.

Chunk the Content Through Drip-Feeding

If you have tens of hours worth of content, presenting the material in one dose is likely to have a negative impact on the learner.

From their perspective, they are immediately presented with an overwhelming amount of content, in fact it is so much that the comprehension becomes less of a priority than just marking everything as complete. Or worse yet, not even starting because the material just doesn’t seem manageable.

Instead, a more effective strategy is to schedule the content to be delivered in chunks (also known as dripping).

By dripping the content over time, and in a logical sequence, then learner can reach daily milestones. The content suddenly goes from being 20 hours in length to a manageable four spaced out over time.

Studies have shown that when learning can be chunked, it is often better retained in long-term memory. By drip-feeding your course content, you enable your learners to absorb the material, and recall it at later point in time. Their priority can shift from getting it done to one of understanding.

Drip-Feeding Guidelines

The way you schedule your lessons is largely dependent on your course content, but here are some general guidelines for content scheduling:

  • Do not exceed four hours of lesson content delivered per chunk
  • The more hours there are, the larger the delay before the next round of content is delivered
  • Start the clock immediately after the learner starts the course
  • The objectives of the lessons that are drip-fed should go together logically
  • Allow a 24 hour minimum delay between scheduled delivery

The important thing is that you logically break up the content in a format that makes sense within the context of the course, that it isn’t overwhelming, but it keeps the learner moving forward. The result will be longer lasting learning comprehension.

Justin Ferriman photo

About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter

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