Rule #1: Respect the Learner

In an online program I helped design, a participant lead a 10-day asynchronous online discussion as her facilitation competency exercise on the topic of “What advice would you provide for a novice learning designer?” The topic really forced me to think about what I considered to be the most important thing to keep in mind when designing learning experiences, especially with respect to designing eLearning.

The conclusion I came to was that it was most important to respect the learner. Learning Designers should:

Respect the Learner’s Needs

  • We too often cram way too much content into eLearning experiences, not all of it immediately relevant to what targeted learners need to know and need to do. We have to be the filters / editors between what subject matter experts (SMEs) think is important and what is most important to learners.

Respect the Learner’s Time

  • This is closely related to the first point. Adult learners are time-starved. You need to get to the point quickly, divide learning into digestible “chunks,” and create intuitive and easy-to-navigate learning experiences.

Respect the Learner’s Intelligence

  • Acknowledge that learners have brains and are willing to use them. Do not make tasks / assessments so mind-numbingly obvious or easy that they insult the learner’s intelligence. Challenge them, make them stretch, and let them fail if need be. The best lessons are hard-won.

Just like Aretha Franklin, all that learners want is a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

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