You might have created quite a bunch of eLearning training modules in various domains. But, developing scientific training modules is altogether a different ball game. The very approach of teaching subjects like Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics takes a new dimension, requiring the content developers to pay attention on various important things.
In most cases, science and technology content may not always be self-explanatory, persuading learners to seek additional support. As the subject builds up into sub sequent levels, the complexity increases and learners may need constant support. Hence, in scientific training, the theory explained should be coherent, logical and comprehensible from beginning to end. In addition, the theoretical knowledge taught should be enhanced with application, which is the real challenge in scientific training.
In this blog, let us touch such aspects, understand the challenges and learn the key points in designing scientific training modules:
Create notes on content presentation
Much before the development of content, once the curriculum is finalized, prepare elaborate notes on content presentation at the instructional design (ID) level. In scientific training modules, presentation of the content is much important. How you present the content determines the effectiveness of the module. The presentation should be lucid and simplified, flowing smoothly in a logical sequence, explained in a known-to-unknown fashion. Mere dumping of the content on the slides will be futile as it affects the comprehensible ability of the learners.
More focus on examples, experiments, scenarios and applications
Compared to other domains, science and technology modules need more importance on examples, experiments, scenarios and applications. A complex theoretical definition – however lucid you may convert it into – still demands examples, experiments, scenarios and applications for better understanding.
While the theoretical part is being explained, the learner could be struggling with his visualization, trying to figure it out. Once a good example, experiment, scenario or application is provided, it removes the complexity of the subject and eases the learning process. Examples, experiments and applications need not be of high end and expensive. It can be simple, ready-to-be displayed on the table and can be explained in a simple video.
A good scientific training module can, in fact, begin with an example, explain the theory part and then conclude it with an application. The limitations and exceptions of the theory can also be explained using examples, experiments, scenarios and applications.
Needless to say, today’s learners prefer to learn the content where the subject contains examples, experiments, scenarios and applications.
Make the training more engaging through interactivities and simulations
In the majority of cases, learners depend on a teacher or a mentor or on an online training module to understand the science and technology content, considering its complexity of understanding. But, if the content is not engaging and not explained easily, the learner gradually loses interests and gets disconnected with the learning activity.
Hence, make the content more engaging, keeping in mind the end users. The training content should be tailored according to their needs. You can add more interactive activities or show more simulations accordingly, to suit the learning purpose.
Interactivities are more like offering hands-on experience to the learners – though with the limitations that an eLearning module has.
Ensure that the training module inculcates scientific zeal in learners
If we look back and ponder over our school days, it reveals us the secret of how a particular teacher inculcated zeal in a certain subject. Inculcating zeal in a subject is the proof of the efficiency of the teacher. The pedagogy of the training module should be in such a way that the learners inculcate scientific zeal. This can help them not only do well with the training module, but can gain more knowledge about the subject through other means of learning efforts.
Provide only accurate and updated information
Science and technology is one domain where information is changing quite frequently and the domain is always brimming with updates. Hence, providing accurate and up-to-date scientific information, research developments, information about evolving technologies and scientific techniques is essential.
Not incorporating updated information can be treated as providing inaccurate information, which will be misguiding the learners. As per the launched date, the training module should contain updated information. The subsequent updates – post launch of the training course – can be provided later, separately.
Use effective measures in assessing their learning
Assessments in a training module play a very important role as they identify the learning levels of the user and can make out where they need additional support. You can try innovative assessment questions apart from the regular assessment questions such as multiple choice questions, fill in the blank questions, true or false questions, matching questions and sequence arrangement questions.
The typical three types of assessments – pre-module assessment, formative assessment and summative assessment – can be best used if planned well: Pre-module assessment questions test the knowledge of the learners before they take the course. Formative assessment questions come after completion of each topic, which test the learners at the end of each topic.
The learners get immediate feedback for their answers with detailed explanation. Formative assessment questions help gain good understanding at each topic level. Summative assessment questions come at the end of the course to assess the overall understanding of the learner.
Let the slow learners find it effective too – with additional support
We are aware that not all learners are of same learning stature. The online training mode itself provides the facility for the learners to revisit the module – at any topic – and study at their own pace. However, for those learners who seek additional support in terms of theoretical explanation of the content or complexity of the subject, chatting and mail facilities can be offered to provide the tutors’ support.
If the mentors or subject matter experts (SMEs) respond to the queries of the learners in time, it would of great help to them in moving to the next level of learning at a rapid pace.