Are You Helping or Hindering the Learning Process?

Essential ProcessingI recently finished a reading of Richard Mayer’s popular text, Multimedia Learning. If you’re using WP Courseware and haven’t read the book, it’s a great resource for techniques that help in explaining ideas to your students or course participants

One of the key concepts Mayer discusses in the book is the management of “essential processing”. Essential processing is the stage of the learning cycle during which learners try to make sense of the concepts being presented to them.

And it’s one of the most critical aspects of both teaching and learning.

It’s the moment when we take something new we’ve learned and have that “aha!” realization. The concepts click and not only have we memorized new information, but we see how it applies in real life.

In creating effective training courses, it’s important that you focus on presenting your information in a way that aids students during the essential processing stage.

Here are 3 tips for creating training content that “makes sense” to your course participants, according to Mayer’s research.

1. Segment your content

If you have any prior experience in creating training courses online, it’s likely that you’re already breaking up, or segmenting, your course content into lessons or units.

But it’s essential that you segment your content into lessons that help a student move through your training at the right pace.

If you present too much in one lesson, students get overwhelmed. Go too slowly, and students lose momentum and the excitement of learning something new.

A good rule of thumb is this: the more complex your material is, the more you should break it up.

One of the best multimedia tools for segmenting content effectively is video. With video-based training content, you can easily break up your content into individual lessons and your students can re-watch parts of the video that they need to.

2. Find an effective modality

Mayer’s research, and that of others studying multimedia learning, has demonstrated that some combinations of text, images, and narration are more effective than others.

Finding the right modality to deliver your e-course is important to ensuring that your students absorb as much of your content as possible.

When you’re able to, the most effective presentation is a combination of narration with images.

This is great news, because for you, the instructor, it means that creating an effective lesson for your students could be as simple as recording a voiceover and screen capturing PowerPoint or Keynote slides.

3. Take the time to pre-train your students

This concept seems intuitive, but in a rush to dive into our content, many of us leave this out of our e-course lessons and end up with confused students.

Pre-training is the process of introducing major concepts, names, and characteristics prior to delivering your training presentation.

Are there terms that need to be explained? Is there historical background you should discuss?

Take a step back and put yourself in a student’s shoes. Assume that you’re being introduced to your course content for the first time.

Does it make sense or do you need to be more effective with pre-training?

Now it’s your turn. Do you have suggestions for assisting students through the essential processing stage of learning? Let us know!

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