Top 10 eLearning Design Principles Compared

Today I was over on Jason Renshaw’s blog, English Raven. He posted a cool idea: to compare your top 10 elearning design principles to those of Kineo, an elearning solutions provider.  Not only am I copying his idea, I’m copying his title. (Jason, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!)

So, in accordance with Jason’s instruction, I created my top 10 list.  You should grab a pencil and do the same now, before reading further.

My list assumes that you’ve already articulated what problem you are trying to solve.  Here we go….my ideal elearning program has:

1. A minimal number of passive learner experience screens. This means minimal video that a learner just sits and watches, text that needs to be read by the learner, etc.

2. Learning objectives that are stated clearly, describing how they can be observed and measured when performed by the learner.

3. A high rate of learner interactivity opportunities (beyond simple multiple choice questions) in which the learner must do something (preferably the thing described by the learning objective).

4. A visual display that is clean and uncluttered, with the learning task taking center stage (yes, this means cutting out all the cutesy cartoonish stuff or extra junk in the background).

5.  A mastery-based approach, only allowing a learner to progress when the current step has reached criterion performance.

6. Instruction that is sequenced appropriately, with subsequent levels increasing in complexity or combining component skills (this is the concept of “levelling” in gaming).

7. A learner response requirement that is as intuitive as possible. If I can’t even figure out how I’m supposed to interact with the material, I’m not going to want to keep working.

8. Application and extension of the learned skills to novel examples.

9. The ability to adapt to individual learner performance, branching and looping to give each learner his or her most appropriate next step of instruction.

10. Clear reporting of learner progress.

Now watch the video that Jason posted by clicking here then come back and tell us what you think.  How did your list compare to Kineo’s and to mine?

About karen mahon

i am a behavior and learning scientist. i hold an ed.d. in educational psychology and am trained as an instructional designer. i have spent more than 15 years working in education and instructional software design.
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6 Responses to Top 10 eLearning Design Principles Compared

  1. Some good solid (and sensible) principles here, Karen, and there is quite a contrast with Kineo’s list. It’s becoming very interesting to compare the principles of educators and corporate-style “learning solutions” providers.

    Thanks for having a shot at this – I’ve linked over here from the blog.


    – Jason

    • karen mahon says:

      Thanks, Jason. The Kineo list seems mostly like “gimmes” to me…not that helpful when actually designing the instruction, however. But it’s really fun to see what others think is “good.” Thanks for the inspiration!

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