Online learning is fast becoming the most cost and time effective means of delivering instructional content to learners with a large number of courses now available online and for a reduced price versus their class room cousins, learners are presented with a smorgasbord of options.

But what makes a good online course? How do we know we are getting value for our money and more importantly, time?
Can online learning replace face to face learning?

Firstly, online delivery of instructional courses has a real place in the future of learning and when done well, can provide an engaging, fun and lasting learning experience.

How do we, as instructional designers, create content for our courses that will truly engage people in their own learning experience driving them to confirm what they already knew, and discover what they as yet did not?

There is no “Magic Bullet” when it comes to instructional design, but here are a few points that will surely help:

  1. Make the learner stop and think, this can be as simple as asking a question and framing it in a way that requires more than a “Yes” or ” No” answer.
  2. Hook the learner with a strong emotion or strong image. emotional experiences can cause reactions in the learner’s mind.
  3. Interactivity, whether it be the use of immersive scenarios or gamification to promote immersion in the content.
  4. Perhaps most importantly, don’t forget that there is a human being on the other end of your course who is hoping to gain new skills and knowledge, put yourself in their shows and try to see the content as your learner might.

As elearning, mlearning and social learning find a wider audience and attract the attention of prospective learners, it is our responsibility as instructional designers to make sure that our online content engages and invigorates our audience.

The future is bright with courses ranging from white card construction safety induction through to advanced degrees being offered online and I for one am excited to see the evolution of this industry!