How to Structure Your Content

I am working with a client who has created courses in Articulate Studio. I am struck by the thought that I often am when I help clients improve their courses. The phrase, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” hits me as page by page there are articulate interactions but no cohesive meaning and message behind the course content.

As an instructional designer, I think the most challenging part is to stay out of the minutiae of the content. What I mean by this is that it is essential you remember who you are teaching and also what you are teaching from a big picture perspective. In course development, we can get lost in all of the supporting documentation and end up with a course full of information, facts and bullet points, which does a complete disservice to the person who needs to learn from our course.

While the information, facts and sound bites are important, they are only important in surrounding the reason the learner should take the course in the first place.

Let me get more specific. 

1. You are a claims processer at a health care insurance company and the way that you process claims is going to change. 

Now I can create a course that outlines the reasons for the change, the new policies and procedures that you will have to follow. That is all good. But most likely the employee will go through it and grow bored or worse just click through the training course without learning anything.

What they need is that punch in the gut right from the start of the course. What are the consequences or pain that they will feel as a result of the change.  Illustrate that and then add the supporting information behind it to help create the solution. There is no reason that someone should be just reading text on the screen. Make them a part of the content and help them FEEL the change. That is where the motivation comes in to learn their new processes and procedures.

2. You are a police officer and you need to learn what the rules are to excessive force. 

Are you apt to pay attention if the course starts out with all the pertinent legislation that mandates the rules and rights that you have? Or would you become more engaged in the content if you are on trial for using excessive force and are facing serious consequences? Yes, if you are shown the consequences first, you are more motivated to listen to the rules and details to ensure that you don’t find yourself in that position.

With a little creativity and ability to think about what the motivation of your learners to learn the course content, you can easily create courses that have a huge impact on their job/work performance. It is no more difficult to create a course this way than it is to make sure that you can convert stale text to bullet points. Plus it is a lot more fun for you as the Instructional Designer to pump some creativity muscle.

Do you have a good example of how you have created that learner motivation at the beginning of a course? Share it with us below.


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