eLearning Design and Development

3 Steps To Build Interactive Lessons With A Learning Map

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There are two main reasons that drive us to build online lessons in a slightly different way, by using Learning map: cognitive learning theory and fast - paced world with increasing sensory overload. In this post I will summarize main steps in building interactive online lessons using Learning map format.

How to build interactive lessons with a Learning map

So the problem was, how to design and structure the lesson according to cognitive learning theory to ensure, that our learners will stay focused and retain information in this information overloaded world. We found the solution in Learning map which integrates planning, creating, delivering of your lessons, collaboration/communication and evaluation in one virtual canvas. It enables you to pull together disparate bits of information and present them in a memorable and digestible form.

In this post I will summarize main steps in building lessons using Learning map format.

1. Break your lesson into several single information units (SIU)

According to our brain information processing (explore this Learning map), we have to structure the content by starting with basic information and continuing with broader ones. Usually we present one information on one or more screens, using text, images, audio narration, video clips, etc.  In Learning Map everything is compressed in one SIU. Thus SIU consists of a:

  • headline, containing keywords which help learners to locate information;
  • short explanation/summary which prevents distraction and helps the learners to quickly understand the essence of the topic.  Here is no place for dumping information.
  • link to source (video, pdf, blog post, etc.). Source could be something that is supplemental but not essential or something that deepens the understanding of the topic. If we use already made videos or pdf-s or blog posts…, we must curate them properly and keep it short as much as possible. Focus only on what really matters! Shortness is essential also when creating new videos or micro lectures. (More about this topic you can find in this article - Making your own educational video vs. using existing resources).

Keeping SIU short and concise is also important because, when the learner is returning back to review a specific SIU, he only needs some key points to “refresh his memory” which at the end facilitates information recall.

By using SUI, learners can access learning content in several shorter sessions which prevents cognitive overload.

Each SIU must be designed in a way that could be used as a single learning object, independent from others. Why? I will explain it in the next point.

2. Connect several SIU-s in a more memorable way  

Ok, now we have several SIU-s. How should we present them? We could do this in a linear way, presenting each one on a separate screen. This is the usual way, but not always the best one. If we want to present several SIU-s in a more memorable way, then I recommend using a non-linear approach presented on a single screen – Learning map. Learning map can hold several SIU-s that are linked together with a learning path on one virtual canvas (on one screen). Learners can recognize the connections between all learning materials right away, which enable easy understanding of the whole concept of the learning content.

On the other hand learners can independently choose the order of reviewing the topic they need/want, but they are still provided with the right level of guidance through the instructional components.

Beside visual-spatial arrangement which significantly improves recall comparing to linear presentation, Learning maps have one more powerful stimulus to enhance memory performance and in that way remembering the information – color. The brain notices and remembers color first! And the main component of the efficient Learning map is the right use of color. More about color influence on our learning is summarized here - How colors can enhance memory performance?

3. Support interaction 

Learning map is by its nature highly interactive in the way of navigation, controlling the pace and so on. Here I would like to focus on interaction in the form of activities that promote learning: quizzes, communication/collaboration activities, assignments. It is advisable to distribute activities throughout the whole Learning map and mix different activities.

Quiz is one of the possible interactions that give great results for long-term knowledge. There are four basic types of questions: multiple choice, single choice, true/false and fill in the blanks. You can and should mix it up with different types of questions – as it engages the learners mind in multiple ways. There are three ways to position the quiz, and they serve to the three different types of assessment: for learning, as learning and of learning. You can find more about usage of the right question type and positioning the quiz in this article - How to create efficient quizzes?

Communication/collaboration among learners and with educator results in greater learner’s long-term retention of learnt information comparing to learning alone. But it is on you as an educator of how to create conditions to promote effective dialog. There are many possibilities, but in Learning map we give priority to forums, which are placed to every SIU and thus promote staying on topic. More about why and how you should get your students to collaborate and communicate can be found here - Why and how you should get your students to collaborate and communicate?

Assignments are not useful only for gauging learner's progress, but also to engage learners and provide them with objective feedback. Beside quiz type assignments, I would rather focus on assignments that require learner’s creation, whether writing an essay or creating his own Learning map. With such assignment you can evaluate complex knowledge and creativity.

We all agree that the role of teachers/educators is changing and as never before we should see / keep in mind? Different opportunities to enhance teaching by understanding new tools and by keeping teaching on the right track. Are you ready?