Years ago when I was learning to be a teacher, I was quickly thrown in the deep end to teach a group of adult learners. ‘Prac teaching’ can be a daunting experience. I still remember the feedback from the teacher who observed my first lesson; she said I needed to be more ‘learner-centric’. It took me months—maybe even years—to truly appreciate the difference between a teacher-centric and a learner-centric approach. In this post I would like to explore the difference, and in particular how it can be applied to eLearning design.
With this approach, the teacher is thinking about ‘what content do I need to deliver in the lesson’ and the goal is to cover everything by the end of the lesson. In essence, the lesson becomes like a presentation. The teacher does most of the talking/presenting and the learners are more like passive recipients of the information.
When it comes to eLearning design, there is also the risk of being so preoccupied with organising content that we overlook the needs of the learners. The focus is on pushing out the content, rather than pulling in the learner. In the field of eLearning, perhaps we could call this approach ‘designer-centric’ or even ‘SME-centric’. This approach often results in courses that look very similar to presentations.
Here is a useful definition of the learner-centric/student-centric approach:
“In student-centred learning, students are active participants in their learning, they learn at their own pace and use their own strategies….learning is more individualized than standardized. Student-centred learning develops learning-how-to-learn skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and reflective thinking. Student-centred learning accounts for and adapts to different learning styles of students.” (Source: http://www.intime.uni.edu)
Teachers and trainers who use a learner-centred approach are able to tune into the individual needs of learners and do their best to meet those needs.
How can eLearning designers be learner-centric?
With the latest technological advances in authoring tools, it is becoming easier for designers to create engaging courses that cater to individual needs and preferences.
Here are a few suggestions for being more learner-centric in eLearning design:
Of course at the most basic level, a learner-centred approach means you must have a good understanding of who the learners are. Before starting the storyboard, it is worth doing any necessary research about the ages, abilities, attitudes and expectations of the learners. With a clear learner profile in mind, it is easier to design a course that meets their specific needs.
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