How to Create Self-Paced Learning

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

In the educational system most of us grew up with, there was a set schedule. We had enforced class periods and fleeting breaks. The syllabus was handed down from professors without conversation about our specific needs or interests.

Blah, right?

Thankfully, e-learning flips that experience on its head. It puts the learning schedule into learners’ hands, empowering them to learn what they want at a pace that lets them absorb and apply the material most effectively. Learners can start and stop a lesson at their leisure, and study as long as they’d like. For many people, this is a more convenient and less stressful approach to learning.

If you’re developing e-learning with the intention of having learners access it at their own pace, here are a few things to consider:

Outline Your Course Content

Be sure to provide learners with a meaningful outline of your course content. Without a sense of the big picture, it’s easy for learners to become confused about how the course content might fit together. Providing a “5,000-foot view” helps them mentally parse out how best to tackle the content.

Break Content Into Chunks

A crucial element of self-paced learning is designing it so learners can dip in and out of content at their own schedule. And since you can safely assume that your learners have exceedingly little time to sit through a looong course, it’s best to provide frequent, logical stopping points. This makes it easier for them to fit bits of training into their schedules here and there.

Remind Learners of Content They’ve Covered

“Wait, what was I doing?” If you’ve ever had this reaction to something like opening a new browser window, you can guarantee some of your learners will have this reaction to resuming a full-blown e-learning course. Help jog their memories by beginning each course module or chapter with a refresher. There’s certainly no need to go over everything again, but providing links to refresher content is enough to help them make the leap to the new material (especially when it's been awhile since they completed the last module).

What tips do you have for developing self-paced learning? If you excel at building bite-size content for busy people, leave your helpful tips in a comment! And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning.

Crisa McCarty
Jono Hoare

I break my packages into modules with a menu page (after providing a full introduction) and dictate the order of access. The final assessment cannot be accessed until the content has been read. We also found it easier to voice-over as well to allow for Language/Literacy/Numeracy problems. The user must read/listen to the module (complete with interactive learning) and then answer several short 'pop quizzes' at the end of each module with simple feedback. When it comes to critical content, I allow the user to try again. At completion of the elearning package, I set a full assessment (all info pulled from the content so there are no surprises) requiring the user to achieve 100% to pass. It works well and at the end of the day, I (along with the key stakeholders) am satisfied the user ... Expand