Content Analysis: How to determine the best learning approaches
The proliferation of learning technologies has given rise to a number of approaches that instructional designers can use to deliver eLearning content.
Based on extensive research, the National Training Laboratories (NTL) developed an effective Learning Pyramid that demonstrates a clear relationship between the teaching method of choice, and content retention rates.
Your choice of how (the most effective approach) you wish to deliver learning, should be based on what (the content) you want to deliver (not the other way around!). Content Domain Analysis and Content Level Analysis should be conducted prior to selecting the instructional approach. Content Domain Analysis must be carried out in order to determine the fundamental objectives of the content. For instance, does the content address cognitive, emotional or physical characteristics of a learner? Based on the result of your analysis, you will be able to frame an overall instructional goal for the course-level content you are about to create. Content Level Analysis is used to determine how your content should be sequenced to achieve the domain level instructional goals.
Linear vs. non-linear analysis should also be conducted to analyze content for sequence. If you determine that the content must be delivered sequentially, then your delivery mechanism should include approaches that control the flow of your content, such as locked navigation. Rigidly controlled sequential “menu type” delivery would be ideal in such situations.
Related vs non-related analysis helps to assess content for relevance. Where possible, grouping the delivery of related modules will have a positive impact on content retention. Use an approach that allows students to view all related modules as a complete unit.
If after analyzing the content, you decided to package it as non-related modules, you should then consider providing students with the opportunity to consume content at their discretion. For instance, allowing them to browse and review course lectures in any order they desire.
Analyzing pre-requisites is also a critical step in content review. If it is determined that there are certain prerequisites for the course, then these pre-requisites should be presented in a separate modules/units and delivered using a suitable approach, for example, through reading materials or pre-recorded lectures.
As a result of content analysis, instructional designers should have a clear understanding of the hierarchical structure and sequence of presentation methods. This understanding typically serves as a blueprint needed to determine the best delivery method – face-to-face, eLearning, MLearning, Video-on-Demand, Gamification, Podcasts, or a combination of instructional approaches.