SLS Online Content Design Model

SLS Online Content Design Model

From text-light to text-heavy:

  • Summarize content and cue learners with key points;
  • Transmit more detailed information through on-line text and other media;
  • Provide text-heavy content as additional resources.

Over hundreds of years, the book has evolved into the leading medium for content delivery. Successful academic learning has required decoding meaning as depicted in voluminous text.

Times are changing quickly. Culture and learning are becoming much more visual and multimedia-based rather than text-based. Younger learners are much less inclined to wade through pages and pages of text to decode meaning. (A lot of older learners are also less inclined to do so, if my experience is any indication! ;-)

Still, far too often online courses overwhelm the learner with too much text too soon -- on-line text with lots of scrolling or clicking to the next page, document attachments with 5 or 10 or 15 pages of text, etc.

One simple approach which Sener Knowledge employs in designing online lesson content is to reverse the commonly used order:

  • Key Points contain summary information, but their real purpose is to cue the learner about the information that follows so that s/he can decide what level to read the content (skim, review, read carefully, or skip) based on his/her prior level of understanding of the related topic.
  • Reading information provided in on-line web pages and/or other media (e.g., Powerpoint, Flash, et al) enables information transmission (e.g., e-lectures, mini-lectures, etc.). It's very important to make this content as concise as possible, given the slower reading speeds for online material.
  • Text documents are usually reserved for the role of supplementary materials which are not essential for being successful in the course. They are designed for learners who want to learn more about a particular topic based on individual interest or need (e.g., labeled "Learn More," "Broaden Your Exposure", et al.) This can also be used for documents which learners need to read, but they don't need to read online.

    Note that this model describes content delivery only; learning experiences should also include exercises, discussions, group projects, and other related learning activities. The main purpose of this model is to get around the obstacle which voluminous text poses.

    This design model is particularly well-suited for adult learners who are capable of making such decisions based on self-knowledge of learning needs, and who desire to maximize the use of their time.

    Read more: Resources on readability

    PS: As you may have noticed, the content on this page is designed using the model...