The impact of design in eLearning

The design of learner control and the aesthetic design impact on learning achievement and the value of online learning.

Higher levels of interaction in online learning permit greater flexibility for the learner. However, too much freedom can disorient and frustrate the learner. Too little control precludes reflection and higher order thinking and further frustrates the learner.[1] In my experience, most learners prefer a clear structure and sequence, but with the option to interact with the sequence in a different order if they so choose, for example, to be able to jump from topic 1 to topic 5 and then back to topic 2. The learner looks for clear ‘signposts’ in the course so that they can monitor their location and progress.

Good aesthetic design, including the visual presentation and the navigation, can have a positive effect on the learner, which in turn impacts on motivation and learner achievement. The design used throughout an online course impacts on its usability and the perceptions of the learner. If the course begins with poor design, the chance for any learning to occur is very small.

[1]Macgregor G & J Turner. “Revisiting e-learning effectiveness: proposing a conceptual model”, Interactive Technology and Smart Education, vol. 6 no. 3, pages 156-172, 2009

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