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Donald Clark’s 100 Tips for Effective Learning Design

Learning Pools Non-Executive Director, Donald Clark, is an award winning speaker at national and international conferences, has 30 years experience in online learning, games, simulations, social media and mobile learning projects and has designed, delivered and advised on online learning for many global, public and private organisations.

As an evangelist for the use of technology in learning, Donald is a regular and sometimes controversial blogger on technology and things that in his opinion, are not best learning practice. Donald says, “I’m seeing the same mistakes being made on screen with online learning, over and over again.”

Continuing the theme of observing repetitive mistakes in online learning, Donald recently published a series of must-read, thought-provoking learning design themed blogs with 100 top tips in total that we thought you’d enjoy:

Image of paper with design sketchs

1. 10 ways to make badass intros in online learning

In Donald’s opinion, many online learning programmes don’t start well because they’re often dull, overlong or, worse, a boring set of learning objectives. Attention is a necessary condition for learning, so your job is to raise attention and curiosity, not bore them into submission.

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2. 10 bloody good reasons for using much-maligned text in online learning

Text is a much-maligned medium in online learning, however after giving some advice on writing text for screens  and writing the perfect multiple choice question, Donald talks about how much online learning, especially simple knowledge and procedural learning, may demand no more than a simple text or text and graphics approach.

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3. 10 essential online learning writing tips in online learning

“Don’t waste your reader’s time.” says Donald. In this blog, we learn about the difference between reading from a printed page and reading from a screen, and how it’s almost always a mistake to simply transfer text without taking into account this fundamental difference.

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4.  10 stupid mistakes in the design of multiple-choice questions

Some online learning designers write their assessment items first, as they can match the assessment to the objectives or competencies before being distracted by the detail in content. Donald talks about how this avoids the trap of writing test items that simply test atomic facts and words from the presented text.

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5. 10 essential points on use of (recall not recognition) open response questions

In Donald’s opinion, multiple choice questions are, essentially, a test of recognition. In this blog, Donald covers how in practice, it is active recall that really matters in knowledge and skills, not recognition. So why not move up the assessment ladder and consider open response?

6. 10 rules on how to create great graphics in online learning

Getting the art direction and graphics right and in your e-learning programme will lead to a better learning experience. All too often this process is fraught with far too many iterations and conflicts, so here’s some tips on smoothing that ride.

7. 10 sound pieces of advice on use of audio in online learning

To Donald, audio has the potential to be the most catastrophic media tool in online learning. Having built a sound studio dedicated solely for online learning and done many dozens of voiceovers, here’s a few tips of Donald’s to avoid the most obvious blunders.

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8. 10 ways based on research to use video in online learning

This blog reviews how our limitations in terms of working memory, episodic & semantic memory, attention and perceptual systems all play a role in limiting the effectiveness of video in online learning.

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9. 10 ideas on use of much maligned talking head videos in online learning

With extensive learning video experience, Donald cut his teeth in video production using presenters, shooting lots of talking heads and generally learning how best to use video in learning.

10. 10 unusual ways to make spaced practice happen in online learning

Spaced practice, despite being well known since Ebbinghaus who first suggested it as a solution to the forgetting curve in 1885, still remains a rarely practiced technique. Find out 10 unusual ways you can make it happen in your online learning.

For further reading on Learning Design visit our recent blog post on Practical advice on better learning design

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