Core attributes of Digital Learning

Core Attributes of Learning Content

Anshula Dhingra February 11, 2021
Be it books, videos, games, simulations, or any other learning modality, content is at its very core and goes through multifold processing before it translates into a final product. Before content is acquired, massaged, written, and transformed into a script, educators, content developers, and instructional designers identify the learning objectives, preferably following the ABCD principle:  
  1. Audience (who the learners are)
  2. Behavior (what should they be able to do after taking the course or module) 
  3. Condition (under what circumstances and conditions)
  4. Degree (to what level of mastery or skill)
  The ABCD principle helps them carve a clear, organized, and focused direction for learning material.  A well-written piece of content is identified through some key core attributes, usually only experienced through the final product. Let us unravel these attributes and see how good instructional design weaves them through every learning solution.   Authority: The value of a learning object lies in its content, and a developer’s research and mastery over the topic shines through its script. Therefore, an efficacious learning solution requires excellent writing that is well researched. Exhaustive research powers the script. Content developers, themselves, may or may not be domain experts. However, they must work closely in a multidisciplinary team through the design and development process because they are solution design experts. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) play a vital role in providing valuable insights and raw material for the final content. With an ABCD blueprint of the learning outcome, a content developer steers through relevant aspects of a concept and seeks inputs from an SME within that blueprint framework. Besides, instructional design is blessed with a plethora of online resources. It is key to the instructional value of a learning product that instructional designers design it for a targeted audience in a given condition. They must integrate strategies that enable the learners to complete a task to a desired degree of perfection.   Point of View: A good script provides an unbiased perspective to its audience. In an age where metacognitive abilities are quintessential, providing a perspective encourages learners to support or counter that perspective. This provides them with a higher-order thinking platform. Besides, an unbiased perspective also offers a direction and stitches all the pieces of information together in a viable format. A well-formed and established point of view also helps build credibility among its target audience. A definite point of view is an offspring of strong research.   Learner at the Center: A good script actively talks to its target audience. Therefore, seasoned content developers research their target audience as they explore the learning content. In line with the ABCD principle, building learner personas help instructional designers ground their research around their audience’s existing and anticipated behaviors, conditions, and degree of mastery in the subject of study. Knowing their end audience helps content developers write scenarios and contextualize their examples which are accurate and relatable for their audiences. The exhaustiveness, expertise, and simplicity of study material contribute significantly to delivering a learning experience.   Mode of Delivery: Content developers must be concerned about the content as well as its method of delivery. Videos should create awareness whereas games should provoke strategic thinking. Simulations intend to instill confidence. A healthy script takes care of research, design, writing style, and context setting appropriate to such modes of delivery. An immersive script is the first ingredient to the ultimate immersive learning experience.   Action: Declarative learning content empowers its recipients to think, delve, or react, while procedural content enables them to perform. A script developed with the end goal in mind is successful in generating a definitive outcome. Action orientation ensures the developer’s focus on expected learner behavior to a certain skill level. “Call to Action,” a phrase commonly used in marketing, is equally applicable to learning. A powerful learning experience can create both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation to read or explore further, sign up for additional courses, register for certification, and most significantly, apply the concepts learned. Learning strategists recognize that a robust script is an outcome of a well-rounded learning strategy and is the primary most ingredient to a substantial learning experience. Therefore, it is vital to revisit our courses’ content from time to time to ensure that it is relevant, exhaustive, credible, learner-centric, and result-oriented.

Anshula Dhingra

Anshula is a learning design professional with over 17 years of dedicated learning architecture and consulting experience in L&D and Education.