Improving the effectiveness of learning online

When you take a course online, it is a very different experience to that of a classroom.  You often have no other students to learn from or discuss the content with. Therefore, the learning design for online learning is very important to the success of the course.

Course Forums

As mentioned above, when you learn online, often you are alone in your task. Therefore, it can be really helpful to have an online forum available to exchange thoughts and ideas with others on the course content. This is less important if it is a short course. 

Short lessons

Most people find it much easier to work through the materials to gain an understanding if the lessons are short and to the point. This is because too much information in one session can lead to mental overload, where only some of the information will be remembered and understood.


You are likely to be more engaged with the materials if there are pictures, diagrams, videos and audio as well as text. This is less important if it is a short course, and if the lessons are short. 

Images and diagrams

You are more likely to remember and reach understanding if text is accompanied by diagrams or pictures. A picture acts as a symbol and can have a lot of information attached to it.

End of course or lesson assessment.

If it is a short course, an end of course assessment will be all that is needed to help you remember what you have learned. If it is a longer course, end of lesson assessments are good in allowing you to consolidate the information you have learned. Questions with multiple choice answers or single choice from a selection of possible answers are good as they remind you what you have learned.