E-learning is not only the media you use. It is also for instance about what you can do in order to support the natural way people act when they learn. Here is an example on how to use that. It is about how they click your course. They don´t click it the way you think.
The first time you enter a room where a seminar is to be held, you do something; what? You look around, don´t you? What do you do then? You look for a place to sit, right? Then maybe you say something to the person sitting next to you, or instead that person says something to you. “Hi, who are you?” The person supposed to be speaking during the seminar might then also come up to you and say “Welcome, I´m Henrik, nice to have you here”.
Why do all of these things actually happen?
What purpose do all these things then have? It is not only part of a cermony, or it is? No, all these things have important purposes to us. One reason for looking around in the room is to get an overview of it, so you later on can manouver faster in it. Getting aquainted with the situation. The reason for contacting other people in the same room could be about security. Who can I trust here? Is there danger somewhere here? Are they nice people?
There are a lot of reasons why these things happen, even without us thinkning about it. It is what we automatically do. We have developed this way of acting over time, over a very long time, that is why it is automatic.
Due to education becoming digital, we now have data on all this. We have for instance “go-flow-analysis” telling us where a person that is enrolling into a course do click first, then second, then thirdly. What I just described on how people act the first time they enter a physical seminar is now something we can “prove” in the digital situation.
People that enroll into a course tend to click around the first thing they do. Well, of course not all of them act like this; people are different, but a huge amount of them act like this. The first thing they do is not always to click in the order you as a developer of a course might assume that they do. First they scroll around everything, fast, to get an overview, then they start the course.
It is like looking on a book, before you even start reading for real. You look at the front, at the back, then maybe you open it and starts reading.
What would happen in a physical seminar-situation if no one would say hi to us when we enter the room? What would happen if you were not able to look around in the room the first time we enter it? It would most likely make you a little bit stressed. You would probably not like it, even if you maybe not could put words on why you at that moment would not feel that happy.
In an e-learning-situation you, as a teacher/educator, can chose; either you care about this process, or not. If you care; then you can decide in what way you should care. You can support, even enforce, this natural process, or just skip it. I suggest you support it.
Below you find a picture of the “manouver-panel” within a course on EdX I run (called Digital Transformation: Market and Industry Analysis). This is the view you meet the first time you enroll in this course.
There are a lot of things you, as a teacher/educator, can not do with an LMS-system, like for instance the system that EdX is providing you with. There are a lot of limitations. I for instance would like to have been able to get rid of a lot of the things we see infront of us here (maybe, if needed, making them visible to students later on, when they might need it), but that is not possible. However, it is actually possible to decide what the main pages in a course should be called, and what they should include. And since these pages tend to be part of the “getting to know what it all is about-process”, that students tend to click on right in the beginning, it could be worth to spend some time on it.
In this course you find pages called “The DT-map”, “Play-lists”, “The procrast-corner” as well as “A place for you too?” (picture below). People do click on them just to get an overview of the course.
By just clicking on these pages for a couple of seconds you probably will come to the conclusion that this course is somewhat different, and that was one of the points with them.
If you for instance would click on “The procrast-corner” you would get to a page giving you possibilities if you are in procrastination-mode.
On one hand this page is there to make you smile. Your teacher “helping you” to procrastrinate is somewhat odd, right? But on the other hand, it is also a very serious page. A lot of people do procrastinate and some of the links lead to interesting research in this field of knowledge. Could be of interest to know a bit more about procrastination. Who knows?
Now, the point here was not to suggest that you should enroll into a course I happen to run at EdX. The point was simply to show you that from a students point of view, the starting-point of a course is very important. It sets the agenda for them, and that you can either support, even use, or not.
And; people do not start courses the way we as teachers/educators might assume that they do.
Why not try for yourself? How do you start off an online-course? What are actually the first things you click on directly after having enrolled into a new course?
My guess is definitely that students taking your course would give you far better reviews if you support this natural “clicking-around-process”, compared to if you don´t. My guess is also that online-courses that take this kind of knowledge about us humans into account, will be far more successfull in the long run compared to others that don´t.
Who said that we did stop being human just because we started using e-learning?