Recently I’ve spoken with several colleagues and a few colleagues who are looking for some help in how to organize their online content.
Khan Academy’s Pixar in a Box (online) course is a perfect example of a well-organized bundle of content. Here are four elements from this course that corporate L&D professionals may want to borrow:
It tells a story
There is a natural progression in this course, beginning with a short introductory video that provides an overview, and it runs through each step of the process involved in making a Pixar film. It’s logical, it flows and it’s compelling. It draws the learners into wanting to know more about the next topic.
Instructional design steps
Not only does the content flow seamlessly from one topic to the next, there is a logical progression within each topic. As an instructional designer, it’s fascinating to see how easily this course follows the anchor -> content -> application -> future use progression that I use when I’m designing a training program.
A quick glance at any of the course topics offers immediate insights as to what you’ll be doing as a learner… and you won’t just be sitting in front of a computer and passively watching videos or clicking through screen after screen of bulleted slides.
Each of the sections begins with a short introduction (often a video), which serves as the “anchor”. Then there is a bit of content, which is obviously the “content” step. Then there are a variety of ways for learners to play with the content they’ve just learned, which is the application piece.
A blend of media
The course designers employ a variety of ways for you to learn how Pixar makes movies. There are short introduction videos, some slick explainer videos, some text with illustrations and a variety of short and interactive practice activities that allow you to try your own animation or graphic design skills.
Even if you don’t have the funding or world-class talent of a media company like Pixar, you can mix up your media with pdfs, PowerPoint slides, handouts, audio recordings, videos or a plethora of other media. Want to create some screen recordings for tutorials? I just reviewed Screencast-O-Matic which is an extremely easy tool to help bolster your online content.
Easy to find key topics
While this course is amazing and impressive in the way it’s organized and in the slick way that Khan Academy and Pixar assembled top notch assets, the thing is that you don’t need to take the whole course from start to finish. If you only needed to learn a little about animation or lighting, you can simply click on those topics on the main menu, get your content, go through the corresponding activities, and you can bring those specific skills into your job without the need to complete the rest of the course.
When it comes to organizing content online, you don’t need the resources of a Khan Academy or Pixar to have an effective online learning strategy.
Spending some time creating a road map for what you’re ultimately looking to accomplish, for the content you need and defining how your users will typically digest the information (will they need entire courses, or access to bite-sized pieces of content?) is essential. Taking a look around at well-designed courses like this one from Khan Academy can offer some valuable insight on how best to organize your own online learning programs.