Striking the right balance with learning content

I’ve had a number of discussions today about what really matters when it comes to the design of effective learning content. What has emerged, at least from my point of view, is a greater clarity about the considerations that drive decision making in both design and development.It seems there are three key factors all competing for attention, and that it’s very difficult to concentrate on them all:

  1. The first major consideration is the subject matter itself. How relevant is this to the target population? How timely is this information? Is it accurate, clear, concise?
  2. The second consideration is the design for learning: What learning strategy should be employed? How can interactivity be used to support this strategy? How can the subject matter best be communicated using examples, stories, cases and demos?
  3. The final consideration is the level at which to set the production values. How professionally should the content be presented? How novel and eye catching should it be? How rich is the media mix?

Clearly each of these is important to some degree. Which comes out top could depend on your role in the process. If you’re a subject expert then obviously your focus is number 1. If you’re selling design and development services, you may well differentiate yourself using number 3. If you’re a learner (and rarely are you the one paying for any of this or ever consulted in any way) then your priority will undoubtedly be number 2. My guess is that most design and development teams focus on two of the considerations, at the expense of the other. Let’s hope that the learner isn’t the one to miss out.

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