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Think Outside of the Course: Integrating Course and Portal Design

  1. Pen Jolet Olsen
  2. Calendar September 26, 2013

Learning Portal - Think Outside of the CourseWould you ever think that an instructional designer could also design a learning portal?  Well they can!  Maybe not in the most traditional way – your designer will not need to learn to write software requirements – but they can exercise best design strategies to reach beyond the boundaries of a traditional course and include learning portal features to create a new kind of learning experience.

Think of the instructional designer as an artist and the course as the canvas, your designer will have a palette, brushes, and canvas.  From this point, the designer is able to use the brushes and colors that will best work within their space.  When the canvas is a course and any functionality is available from the learning portal, the artist is now able to create a masterpiece that incorporates things like social forums or coaching centers.

The freedom provided by the integrated/blended course allows instructional designers to encourage learners to consume related resources on their own pace, or contribute assets to a resource library.  Best of all, the designer can tie these activities together so that they are all part of the learner’s training history and progress. Activities that are completed can count toward a certificate, an achievement, a mastery score, or some other incentive!

An example, the instructional designer can design tools such as a note-taking feature where the learner can take notes within a course that are incorporated into a journal or notepad. That information can then be shared across several courses and also used outside of the course.  This capability is exciting because the designer is able to create a learning situation which includes performance support tools that can be taken outside of the course and used on a day-to-day basis.

The instructional designer is no longer limited to what they can fit into an online course – they can actually “design” their entire learning environment.  With these kinds of possibilities at the designer’s disposal, their wheels will churn and new ideas for improving learning may be created.  This is what we call “thinking outside of the course” – creating a learning experience that integrates activities before, during, and after the course.

At Allen, we are providing this kind of opportunity to our clients by allowing instructional designers to use the entire learning portal as their canvas.  They can leverage any portal feature (or even invent new ones) as part of the overall learning experience.  And to top it off, it’s all trackable (yes, data tracking for participating in a discussion forum, for reading additional resources, updating a journal entry, etc.)!

We believe blurring the lines between the course and the portal; between learning and performance support, will take the impact of learning to a new level. 

So, get your palette and your brushes ready – how would you design your portal?

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