Use the Medium (A Spork Doesn’t Work That Well)

Use the Medium (A Spork Doesn’t Work That Well)
By: Jessica Rebstock


When taking an online course, most people are expecting certain things. A website with well organized sections, buttons, and links. Some graphics. Content that’s interesting and relevant. That pretty much covers most people’s basic expectations. An organization’s training modules must look as good or better than any other professional website people visit.

But, does a well organized website create a rich learning environment? Not necessary. Ideally, all online course content should be “born digital.” This means that course content and activities were created for digital display and fully use the advantages of the online environment. You can zoom in on content, you can search, you can watch videos, you can manipulate items on your screen, and you can easily send your classmates messages. Now, your course has that “interactivity” that everyone is always taking about. Your students have the ability to experiment and create. Your students are given the opportunity to connect with anyone, anytime.

Online course content should be different than the same training given in a classroom. Why? Because you should be using the distinct advantages one medium provides over the other. In classroom training, participants should be engaged in that physical space – the content presented on projection screen, the classmates sitting next to them, the instructor right in front of them. Participants can immediately ask questions and get feedback. This face-to-face time should be used wisely and purposefully. And the online medium? Trainers should consider the advantages of the online medium as well. Online learning environments should encourage participants to stay connected to one another through technology, create opportunities for safe practice, and allow participants to have extra time for reflection on course content.

Sometimes training professionals are under pressure to single source training content. Or, we have our favorite training methods and always want to use them regardless of the medium. The medium matters. A lot. You don’t use a megaphone in your house (usually). You can’t read the newspaper while you are driving (please don’t). These things matter.

Consider your medium. Build for that medium.


2 thoughts on “Use the Medium (A Spork Doesn’t Work That Well)

  1. Jessica, these are great insights about online course design. I love the metaphors you use. A question for anyone in this blog space: What would be analogous to using a megaphone in your house when thinking about online course design?

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