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(In my last post I discussed the problem caused when trainers include everything including the kitchen sink in their learning designs.)

My specialty is the design of online, self-paced learning experiences.  How can the lesson learned about the “coins” be applied in the design of these experiences?

I’ll use the metaphor of a hairbrush.  The most important part of the hairbrush is its handle.  The bristles are completely useless if the handle is absent.  You could remove quite a few of the bristles, however, and the brush would still serve its purpose.

Imagine that the handle represents the timeline of your module.  In each segment of the line, you will present only the information that you need learners to commit to memory.

Many segments of the timeline will have “bristles” attached.  The bristles represent information about the topic that need not be committed to memory.  There are the “nice-to-know” facts rather than the “must-know” facts.

Structure your slides to permit learners to access the bristles by clicking buttons or hot spots but don’t require them to do so.  In keeping with the idea that the information residing in the bristles is optional, do not incorporate it into the quiz.

Speaking of the quiz, use it to reinforce the must-know points by covering these in as many ways as you can come up with.  In other words, if there are ten must-know points, you might have a total of thirty questions.  Drill to kill!

You aren’t limited to a single quiz in a module, of course.  Include brief quizzes every few segments as your module unfolds.  As someone once said, “Spaced repetition is the mother of adult learning.”

(In my next post, I’ll present an example of a segment of an online module structured to emphasize the must-know points while giving access to optional “nice-to-know” information.)