Online learning content can perform many different functions, depending on the learning strategy which you are employing. To make this point, I’ve adapted the descriptions of different approaches to learning as described by Ruth Clark and Merlin Wittrock in Psychological Principles of Training, published in Training and Retraining, Macmillan Reference USA (2001):
- If you are creating new content, consider the strategy which this is primarily intended to support and what impact this might have on your design.
- Consider whether the content will need to be combined with some other element in order to fulfil the strategy, e.g. opportunities for Q&A or assessments to accompany expository materials; opportunities for ongoing practice and feedback to support structured instruction; practical activities to provide additional opportunities for discovery; social media tools to support exploration.
- Consider whether the content can be useful to support secondary strategies, perhaps even all four. You will be more successful in this respect if you keep the content modular and as free as possible from instructional context.