3 Reasons Why You Must Free-Up Navigation In eLearning
Some common questions we often hear: Should there be forced navigation in eLearning courses? Or should we allow greater learner control? There is not a right or wrong answer, however, if you want to produce results, then locking the navigation is not the answer.
Navigation is definitely a critical element of eLearning. Good navigation enables self-directed learning, allow learners to explore and read content that's most relevant to their specific needs. Difficult navigation creates frustration and encourages students to escape. In this post we want to encourage you not to force learners into a lock-step approach to learning, instead: LET LEARNERS DRIVE!
Here are three good explanations why opening the navigation of your eLearning courses is a great strategy to keep your learners engaged and motivated:
Locking down the navigation may lead to frustration and obstruction of the learning process
Quite simply, the more restricted you make the course, the more opportunities you have to disengage and frustrate learners. And do you know what happens when there’s frustration? You generate resistance and unresponsiveness. Think about it: if learners are forced to read every single screen in a course, including those which include information they already know, they will probably get bored and resentful and leave. In other words, you are wasting their time.
It’s proven that adult learners resist learning when they feel information and actions are being imposed on them. You’re probably thinking that if you don’t block the navigation students will just click through until the end of the session without really learning the information. That’s not true! Instead, by forcing students to read all the content in the course, you’re making them feel frustrated and bored. There are many strategies you can implement to ensure they are actually reading, for example including a case study or evaluation at the end of each section.
Forcing navigation doesn’t mean students will learn more
Even when students have been forced to read every screen of the course, that doesn’t mean they’re grasping all of the information. In other words, blocking navigation and exposing students to every piece of content does not make it more understandable… on the contrary, it may cause learners to focus just on the progress of the course (hoping to finish ASAP!), instead of paying attention to the content of each screen. The only way you will ensure learners are “getting the information” is by giving them exercises to practice applying their knowledge. The goal is to get them DO something!
By creating an environment where learners have as much freedom as possible, where they can click around and explore content as they wish, you are enhancing the learning experience.
Unlocking the navigation means students have more control over the learning process
When it comes to eLearning, content personalization matters. When you know your audience, their needs and specific characteristics you have the opportunity to give a customized experience where they can spend their time freely, learn and engage with the content they really need. And to leverage this savvy thinking, face it: You need to free-up the navigation of your course.
One size does not fit all. Most often learners are not interested in everything that you give in a course. Neither they learn the same things or in the same ways. Most people learn best when they can read information at their own pace. Others just need to try things out themselves to fully understand them. We should tackle knowledge needs and learning styles as far as possible, and eLearning can do this. When we unlock navigation we are allowing students to learn according to their needs and take control over the learning process.
Adults usually like choices that promote self-direction. When possible, allow learners to take charge of their own learning by letting them choose the topics they will read within a course. Give learners options to move around the course freely. Even if you provide a suggested order, allow learners to take lessons in a sequence that works for them.
Don’t restrict your learners!
The promise of eLearning for many students is the chance to engage in a "classroom" like never before. Every seat is in the front and the dynamic eLearning space has the potential for some of the most engaging curriculum and learning experiences students have ever experienced. This often requires that you stand out by letting students have the flexibility to access information and learn according to their needs. Make it easy for learners to navigate through a course. No matter how engaging the content or innovative the design, if the course can’t be navigated easily or if it’s not accessible, you’ll give your learners a negative experience.
You should try to make the navigation bar the element your learners want to click out of interest and motivation – not because it’s the only way to end the course. So, free-up your navigation... it opens up all kinds of possibilities for making your course more engaging and meaningful, because learners aren't locked!