eLearning Content Comprehension: Objectives And Challenges

Objectives And Challenges Of eLearning Content Comprehension 

If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.” ― Albert Einstein

As mentioned in my earlier article, the content we received was in the form of PDFs, PPTs, printed material, and classroom training audio script. It was assigned to two teams; one team completed the course development efficiently, while the other team failed to deliver on time. We have also seen that the crucial step that made the difference was eLearning content comprehension. The team that comprehended content effectively was able to complete the project successfully.

In the initial stage, even the team that comprehended effectively had no idea of where to start, where to end, and the outline. The only thing they had a clear idea of was the client’s objective behind the training, i.e. what the learners need to achieve after the training.

Our Team's 3 Objectives Of eLearning Content Comprehension 

In that no man’s land kind of situation, taking the training objectives as guideposts, they initiated content comprehension by setting certain objectives for the process. Lets’ see what those objectives were:

1. Identify The Relevant And Eliminate Irrelevant Content. 

In most cases, the content given by Subject Matter Experts is like an elephant which learning designers are asked to put in a cage half its size. So before comprehending content, learning designers should be aware of the learning objectives of the training.Their goal should be identifying content relevant to the learning objectives. If they are unsure of the relevance of any piece of information, they can highlight it and ask the Subject Matter Experts. If the Subject Matter Experts agree, they can get rid of the irrelevant content.

2. Identify Gaps In Content. 

The content being comprehended by the teams had a lot of legal terminology. The learning designers searched in Google and sometimes asked the stakeholders directly about the content that was difficult to understand.

Once they became familiar with the concepts and terminology, they started thinking in terms of the learners. They identified missing content, without which other content would be difficult to understand.

Let me make it clear with an example.

A seventh grade student was trying to understand the steps to solve an algebraic problem in his math class. The teacher, who is very experienced, skipped demonstrating some steps due to which the student failed to understand the subsequent steps.

This can happen with eLearning content too. The content given by Subject Matter Experts is based on their experience. They may miss some basic content (that can be basic for them but not the learners). Instructional Designers, while comprehending content should identify such gaps or missing content and discuss with the Subject Matter Experts to fill them.

3. Make A Rough Outline And Get A Holistic View Of The Content.

After going through the whole content, the team organized the raw content that was scattered across various formats. They then created a rough outline with a logical flow of topics. This outline was the main output of the content comprehension process.

3 Challenges Our Team Faced In eLearning Content Comprehension  

These were the main objectives set by the team for content comprehension. Now, while attempting to achieve those objectives, they faced numerous challenges. Here are a few of them.

1. The Learning Designers Were Not Experts In The Subject.

The content given was very new and alien to them. They had great difficulty understanding it. Communication with the Subject Matter Experts (though it was very difficult to get them, as they were always busy with their work schedules) played a key role in overcoming this challenge.

2. As It Was Legal Content, It Was Lengthy, Heavy, And Boring For The Learning Designers.

But the job of a designer is to make such content engaging for learners. The designers took this as a challenge as their capability will be tested when they deal with such content.

3. Time Limitation Is An Unavoidable Challenge In Content Comprehension.

The entire effort invested in understanding content is time consuming as it is technical in nature, most of the time. But if this initial step is performed effectively, the steps down the line become easier and quicker. As I said in my previous article, this step made all the difference between both teams.

The successful team completed the process of content comprehension keeping these objectives in mind and overcoming the challenges.

In one of my upcoming articles, I will write about the detailed step by step process of comprehending content. Till then, you can have a look at our eBook Instructional Design 101: A Handy Reference Guide to eLearning Designers for more insights.

eBook Release: CommLab India
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