A typical challenge during content creation for elearning courses is having too much information. You have so many researched data and facts and figures. How will you know which of these should be used? That in itself might be mind-boggling already.
But why do you have to shorten the information that you will deliver in online courses? Well, there is this thing called the cognitive overload that you have to avoid. The Cognitive Load theory was introduced by John Sweller and it basically states that content should be broken down into shorter chunks. By dividing the content, the lesson that is in the short-term memory can be converted into the long-term memory. This will help make retention more possible. If the data is too long, the earlier parts of the lesson will not be converted into long-term memory. That will increase the chances that the data provided will be forgotten. When that happens, the success of the course will be compromised.
Now that you know why you need to keep the content short, the next question is how can this be done? Here are some content creation tips that will help you sift through the information that you have so you will know what has to be taken out and what can stay.
Consider your learning goals
Start by going through your learning goals – both for the course and the expectations of the learners. Focus on fulfilling these alone. By concentrating on the goal, you can remove the fluff in your content. If the content will not lead you towards the goal, put it aside. It helps to consider the goal and how it will change the learner for the better. Opt to provide the “need to know” and skip the “nice to know”. Anything that will not accomplish that is not needed in the course.
Opt for smaller doses
Instead of having different segments in one whole course, create shorter courses instead. Consider the segment during the content creation process and see if you can create a complete yet shorter course using only that segment. The gap between each course will give the learners enough time to absorb the lesson before focusing on another lesson.
Make use of appendices
If there are concepts that you think the learners might need to know or refresh, you can just put that information in an appendix. This will give the learners access to information – should they want to explore it further. What will happen is you will give them the freedom to explore this new information or not. By giving them the links, they also have the option to explore the new information on their own time.
Shorten the text
Finally, you have to lower the text density. Instead of writing paragraphs, use bullet points. This will keep the learners from feeling too overwhelmed by reading too much text. Or you can use graphs or infographics. Using visual elements can be effective in giving a lot of information without giving the learners the feeling that they are drowning because of too many facts.
Use these tips as you go through the content creation process. It will help make the learners feel more in tune and attentive to the lesson because they get to focus on one concept at a time.