Creating Engaging Online Learning Content

How can online learning materials better engage learners? This is the question I ask myself every time I go to work designing content. It’s easy to record a lecture, provide notes and make it available on the web. But, if this is all we do as instructional designers, we are forgetting to follow best practices, ignoring the powerful tools we have at our disposal and doing a disservice to our learners. I always consider how I can involve the learner with the content.

With my current job, this has meant converting slide based lectures into engaging Camtasia videos. The lectures discuss international business in different countries throughout the world. The module I am currently working on teaches students about doing business in Southeast Asia. The geographic attributes of the countries in Southeast Asia vary greatly, as does the size of each country. Using Camtasia, I am able to give students a strong sense of the geography of the region and the relative size of each country. When the modules discuss population and economic power throughout Southeast Asia, students are able to visualize the different countries, which guides a more intuitive understanding of the content.

The videos have been an excellent start, but now I want to model some of what I design next off of software simulations. Software simulations require students to experience the process of using a specific application, scaffolding the different tasks and features. I think a lot can be learned from this method. Languages and religions differ throughout Southeast Asia. Using interactive software simulations as a guide, the experience for students can become one of discovery.

I enjoy experimenting with different ideas and designs. As these modules continue to develop, I will be creating, testing and re-designing in order to provide the best learner experience possible.


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