Design Short

Get to the point. One of my favorite titles on writing is, How To Write Short. You could strip two words out of that title. The virtual book jacket at Amazon says: this ever-changing Internet age, short-form writing has become an essential skill.

Clark covers how to write effective and powerful titles, headlines, essays, sales pitches, Tweets, letters, and even self-descriptions for online dating services. With examples from the long tradition of short-form writing in Western culture, How to Write Short guides writers to crafting brilliant prose, even in 140 characters.
Who can argue with that? Write short. You know what, though? We need to do the same with online courses. Over the last few years, I've had a bit of an epiphany. Maybe, it was my patience snapping. 

Too many online courses get designed as long flowing ballads that involve reflection and online discussions behind a walled garden. Cut those courses down. Make them short.

The recommendations will not surprise anyone engaged in online learning: keep videos short (10 minutes), keep courses short (4 weeks), provide engaging activities and practice, and help learners apply their new skills.
You know, my recent experiences with designing online courses says, "Design shorter learning experiences." Instead, my suggestions are:
  • Keep videos short, 6-8 minutes
  • Organize course content into simple, modular structures (3-4 pages, max), 1-2 days to complete
  • Provide engaging activities (optional)
  • Invite learners to apply new skills (it's their decision)
I'm not standing over adult learners with a ruler, measuring their progress. Here's a set of learning experiences. Do what you will with it. At the end, you get a badge and certificate. You can keep access to content for a year.

Instructional design is now a matter of engaging shorts arranged for maximum effect. What you do with it, that's up to you.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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