Managing learner expectations - long courses

Hey Everyone,

Looking for some tips on how to manage learner expectations with long courses. We design courses on the LMS with several scorm packages that must be worked through to complete the course. 

Apart from indicating the duration on the course, I'm looking for any ideas/tips to make the learner feel less overwhelmed when accessing the course for the first time. Its orientation to new systems...which in itself can be intimidating.

I thought of dispersing "coffee break" slides at strategic points throughout the course encouraging them to take a break before continuing - any other suggestions are most welcome.

Kind Regards

3 Replies
Sam Lincoln

I would imagine that the answer depends on the LMS you use but here's some generic thoughts that may help you Jessica though some may not apply:

  • Hide lessons within (collapsible) topic groups so that the user does not see everything at once.
  • Drip content (i.e. they don't see/receive subsequent content until they have completed earlier content).
  • Very clear and 'inviting' content titles sets the tone - where possible informal is better than concise and factual - the same goes for content style.
  • Make sure to explain the course during the welcome video/content making clear what you expect of them and what they should expect of you/the trainer/the course to do (different from learning objectives).
  • Incorporate short and concise tutorials on how to navigate the course, whether or not they are tracked, if/how they will be assessed etc., what happens if they leave a lesson prematurely (will they be able to resume where they left off?).
  • If collaboration/assignment submission is expected I find this to be the most intimidating for new learners, they need help to overcome reticence and not be surprised if they are contacted to find out why they are not contributing or engaging.
  • Let them know how/where to seek help and, if possible, arrange for an early phone call to let them know they're not alone.

If all else fails, be up front. Let them know you recognise the potential for intimidation but not to let that put them off. 'Speak' to them as an individual and, if appropriate, let them see your/the trainer's face (but a video is better).

Hope that helps.

Nancy Hemenway

I just finished reworking a  a long and detailed graduate course in research for a University in the UK - some of the basics I have a hard times (sometimes remembering) is to design always with the learner in mind.

Basic stuff like keeping graphics and text close together, using informal language (for narration)  I've found are important. Keep it simple and interspersing some humor, depending on your audience - adapting for mobile learning and giving opportunities to practice. Changing their venue and adding some activities for practice. Remove or minimize anything that is a distraction. Add some video. This can all reduce cognitive load. My two cents for what its worth :) I had 7 chapters in the first part of the module - some longer than others. What I tried to do is find a "coffee break" type of humorous video and used that to break up the sections.