The Butterfly Effect: What Does This Theory Have To Do With eLearning?

eLearning And The Butterfly Effect: Six Key Aspects To Focus On
Summary: How can eLearning designers ensure that learners face the typhoon at work instead of being uprooted by the wings’ flap? Find out how the butterfly effect can make or break an eLearning course.

eLearning And The Butterfly Effect

The title speaks a lot! The butterfly effect is a highly debated concept dividing people into two, one defending and believing the ideology and the other dismissing it. Here’s the theory in simple words: a small thing can have a non-linear impact on a complex system. The concept is explained by a butterfly flapping its wings and causing a typhoon. There might be a minimal chance of such a happening, yet, a minute change in the system can result in a major outcome, and that has been proved from time to time. You might think, "What does the butterfly effect have to do with eLearning?"

The Butterfly Effect In eLearning: Six Key Aspects To Focus On

Well, just as the concept speaks of the impact of a butterfly’s flapping action in causing a typhoon, a tiny deviation of the course from its intended purpose can end up in developing an unproductive and ineffective eLearning course, degrading its value, and tarnishing the reliability of the developed course as well as its developer. This may sound absurd but that’s the hard truth. For a better understanding, here’s a bird-eye-view of an eLearning course along with the key aspects where even an infinitesimal deviation from the intended purpose ends up in an overlooked eLearning course.

Key Aspect 1: Learning Objectives (LOs)

The primary purpose of the learning objectives is to educate the learners on the purpose of attending the training course and the outcomes they can expect at the end of it. Moreover, these LOs inform the learners about the way the learned concepts can be inculcated and implemented in the situations they face in their work environment. Any error or deviation in this aspect leads the learner to overlook and neglect the eLearning course, which consequently leads to a reduction in the ROI and the course’s effectiveness. Clear and specific learning objectives guide learners and set expectations. Ambiguous or overly complex objectives may lead to confusion and a lack of direction.

Key Aspect 2: Course Content

Speaking of the course content, it is obvious that the course content should not be muddled as it can contaminate it and lose its credibility. If muddled, it eventually deviates the learners from achieving the key outcomes they intended to reach by taking the training course. Hence, the SMEs draft the content with utmost precision and accuracy, and the Instructional Designers ensure that the learners are taught most effectively so that the learned concepts and topics are long-retained and easily implemented at work. Engaging and relevant content can enhance understanding. Conversely, poorly chosen content or a cluttered presentation may lead to cognitive overload and decreased comprehension.

Key Aspect 3: Knowledge Check (KC)

The knowledge check is the qualifier round in the entire eLearning course as it assesses the learner's understanding of the learned topics and concepts. Once they clear the assessment and are found eligible, they are felicitated with the certificate and appreciated for completing the course. Though the task may seem like a piece of cake, several elements are to be considered while drafting such qualifying questions.

Of prime-most importance should be the cognitive level that the question taps into the learner. If the learner is required to recite or recollect the concepts learned from the training course, the drafted questions must assess the learner’s remembrance level. And, if the learner should follow the learned concepts while at work, then the questions should check the learner’s ability to interpret the situation and respond to it intellectually to solve the encountered issue.

Key Aspect 4: Feedback Mechanisms

Constructive and timely feedback can guide learners in the right direction. Ineffective or delayed feedback may lead to misunderstandings or missed learning opportunities.

Key Aspect 5: Navigation And User Interface

A user-friendly interface can contribute to a positive learning experience. Poor navigation or accessibility issues may frustrate learners and hinder their ability to focus on the content.

 Key Aspect 6: Accessibility And Inclusivity

Inclusive design ensures that a broader range of learners can access and benefit from the course. Ignoring accessibility may exclude some individuals from the learning experience.

Final Word

It's crucial for eLearning designers and instructors to be aware of the potential butterfly effects in these key aspects. Regular evaluation, feedback collection, and a willingness to make iterative improvements can help create a more effective and learner-friendly eLearning experience. Enabling the learner to comprehend the learned concepts and topics and utilize them at times reflects the effectiveness and reliability of the eLearning course. Hence, it is the responsibility of the SME and Instructional Designer to ensure that the learner faces the typhoon at work rather than being uprooted by the wings’ flap.