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The Affordances of Digital Learning Platforms

Updated: Mar 31, 2020

If you’re reading this post, it’s likely you’re delivering online teaching. Or maybe you’re thinking about it for your courses in the near future. However, there are common pitfalls we see many course teachers/instructors experience. I have included the tips and aspects you might need to look into and we hope they help you to achieve eLearning success.

Point One: Multimodal Texts and the mode affordances

Multimedia combines sound, graphics, video, written text, and animation to present interactive stories, games, and educational materials. These multimodal texts (i.e., sound, graphics, videos, written texts and etc.) have their unique meaning representational abilities. E.g., Voices can express emotions; written texts afford abstract ideas; images show the spatial meaning of objects and etc.

Point Two: Theory of Multimedia

Humans can only process a finite amount of information in a channel at a time, and they make sense of incoming information by actively creating mental representations. As we create multimedia contents for learning, we have to make full use of the theories to optimise the learning capacities with the various modes of texts. The theories have also provided guidelines on the proper way of learning designs that promote deep learning (meaningful learning) for the learners. Further references on the theories can be found:

Point Three: Usability

The difference between a good webpage/app and a bad webpage/app is usually the quality of its user experience (UX). A good UX is what separates successful multimedia artefacts from unsuccessful ones. Today, web/mobile users expect a lot from what you create: fast loading time, ease of use and delight during interaction. If you want your webpage/app to be successful, you have to consider UX to be not just a minor aspect of design, but an essential component of multimedia design strategy.

Point Four: Micro-Learning

MicroLearning refers to an educational approach that offers bite-sized, small learning units with just the necessary amount of information to help learners achieve a goal.  It is different from day-long powerpoint training sessions. In the eLearning and instructional design realm, it's the latest buzzword. When bite-sized learning content is easily and readily accessible, learners can take it at their own pace, wherever they are, and most importantly, when they are “ready.” Because bite-sized courses are more focused, learners don’t have to clutter their memories with irrelevant information. This makes retention easier. However, there are disadvantages of implementing microLearning, e.g., for long-term learning goals, microLearning interventions could end up as content fragments that are not tied together. To implement successfully microLearning courses, the course developers must fully understand the nature of the course and the learning outcomes expected. One of the very important aspects of microLearning is Just-In-Time learning.

Point Five: Artificial Intelligence and personalisation in Learning

Today’s learning institutions generally face a wide range of challenges, including disengaged students, high dropout rates and the teacher-centered teaching approach (one-size-fits-all). But when big data analytics and artificial intelligence are used correctly, personalised learning experiences can be created, which may in turn help to resolve some of these challenges. One of the ways in which we will see an impact is in the individualisation of learning methods. As mentioned by the (commonly misattributed to Albert Einstein) famous quote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Cheesy, maybe, but it serves a purpose in understanding the importance of individualised learning methods in schools. AI-based learning systems would be able to collect useful information about students’ learning styles, abilities, and progress, and the big data AI-based learning system can be used to train the AI to provide suggestions for how to personalise the teaching methods to students’ individual needs.

Point Six: Gamification in Education

Gamification is the use of game design and mechanics to enhance non-game contexts by increasing participation, engagement, loyalty and competition. These methods can include points, leaderboards, direct competitions and stickers or badges. However, it’s important to note that in order to motivate people you need to engage them at an emotional level (e.g., reward the learners if they are hardworking and consistent) and giving them a badge for something that they have no emotional connection to will not give them any satisfaction or encouragement.

In today’s world where online learning is everywhere, web course design knowledge is an essential skill to have. It’s because most of the knowledge we need can be found online Many people around the globe are showing interest in learning how to build and design courses websites.

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