Working through dense arcane content

Hello all,

My client has a 200+ page Workbook for a course on basic math, geometry, blueprint reading and the like for novice machinists and mechanics. The current course is totally self-paced, but had been blended self-paced and ILT. The learner reads sections of a chapter, completes a skills check, with answers on the next page, for each section, then does a mastery check, with no answer key, at the end of each chapter.

The failure rate is very high. My client wants me to boost the pass rate. I want to boost the comprehension rate, thus the pass rate.

They are open to WBT, using SL3, blended WBT/ILT, keeping the same approach, or whatever might work.

My question is, does anyone know of a course that takes similar dense and arcane content and transmogrifies it into WBT that I might be able to take a peek at? I have a ton of ideas, but great as they are, I am willing to learn from others.


4 Replies
Shyna Gill

I don't have any advice or examples of elearning content like this, but I'm wondering if the text could be edited to incorporate some of the plain language guidelines, like the ones the federal govt uses. When I read this, I immediately wondered if the text is too heavy or full of jargon and it's affecting the comprehension/pass rate. Fortunately, there's quite a few resources online that give lots of good tips on how to do this.

I'm looking forward to watching this thread to see if anyone can come up with some good examples of what you're looking for though, because I'm curious myself! 

Nicole Legault

Hi there Rick!

Thanks for sharing your discussion topic here in the community. That's a good one! I can't think of a specific example of dry, arcane content however I know there is TONS of stuff in the E-Learning Examples hub, so that would be a great place to get started to browse around, get inspired, and get some ideas flowing.

Another thing that might help is to think about... how and when are learners supposed to actually USE this information? WHY do they need to know this information? What would happen if they DIDN'T know the information? What are some real situations or real life scenarios that learner would encounter that would require them to use the information they are learning in your course?? Having answers to all of these questions will help you and will also allow you to create scenarios for your content which i tend to think is generally a great way to make content more engaging and fun. If you don't have the answers to these questions, a subject matter expert will hopefully be able to help you out. I thin uncovering the answers to those questions is going to help you a lot. Hope it helps!! :) 

Daniel Brigham

Hi, Rick:

Agree with Nicole -- highlighting the context, that is, when the learner needs to know the information is probably the biggest thing. I'd say if you focus on that AND break up the content into smallish chunks, you'll increase transfer rate.

I found the book Make it Stick by Roediger and McDaniel very helpful in designing training that helps learners remember/retain information. A few biggies for me:

  1. When learning is hard, it lasts longer (so occasionally really challenge your learners)
  2. Mix up the way you have learners practice what they've learned. If you have a sequence of learning activities, vary it.  
Scott Wiley

I have always been an evangelist of a combination of concepts from Cathy Moore (search "action mapping") and Allen Interactions (search "CCAF").

So to combine with some of what's already been said, using Action Mapping, focusing on what the learners actually need to "do" in the context of how/when they might do it first, listing out those required activities. Then devise activities that would help them practice those - consider the CCAF model here. Then consider "only" the information "really, really" needed to successfully complete those activities.

You might also consider looking at some of the math training concepts used by Khan Academy.

Hope that helps.