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Encouraging Reflection in Elearning Design

Blog posts | 02.09.2021


Shaping the future of learning

When did you last hear, “I loved that compliance training I had to do this week!” Never, right? 

Everybody is busy these days, and nobody has the time for an additional task that might not seem related to their job! It makes sense that learners in mandatory training often resort to blazing through the courses as quickly as possible.

Learners rushing through courses isn’t unique to mandatory compliance training. It can be easy for learners to get into a rhythm and click through all the pages without truly absorbing the content, even if the subject matter is something they are genuinely interested in. 

Getting learners to stop scrolling, clicking, and skimming, to slow down and take a moment to reflect, can significantly increase the effectiveness of a course. 

Why is reflection important? 

Reflection is a key part of the learning process. It’s where the learner applies new knowledge in their mind, connecting the dots between information and experience, solidifying their understanding of a topic. 

Learners who reflect as they go are more likely to contextualise their learning, thinking through new information and identifying how it relates to their role or how they could incorporate it into their routine. 

When learning something new, a good reflective exercise is to ask yourself, “Could I explain this to an 8-year-old?” Breaking down a subject into suitably simple language requires you to understand and apply the concepts in question. Gaps in your understanding are revealed fairly quickly when you think about a subject in this way! 

In a traditional face-to-face setting, the instructor can encourage reflection by engaging with the room, asking for input and interaction from the learners. It’s a challenge to replicate this in elearning, where information is provided to learners via a one-way dialogue. So what are some good ways to work reflection into your courses? 

Introductory self-assessments

Self-assessments are often included at the end of a course to prompt the learner to reflect on what they have covered, which is a great idea. However, self-assessment can also be an effective tool to start the reflective process before your core content begins. 

Ask the learner about their current understanding of the subject before presenting your core content. This will help get their brain matter ticking and highlight potential gaps their knowledge as they proceed through the course. Consider questions such as: 

  • How would you rate your current level of road safety? 
  • Is there anything about copyright compliance you are unsure about? 
  • What steps can you take to ensure an inclusive workplace? 

Break up the content by getting the learner’s input 

Providing opportunities in the course for the learner to give their own input helps to encourage reflection and avoid a passive one-way information flow, which is often not very engaging. 

 A great way to achieve this is to include “open text” sections. These are areas of the course where learners can freely type in their response to a question before receiving feedback or suggestions.  

These aren’t assessments; there is no correct answer. The goal is to prompt the learner to reflect on their habits and routines before presenting the content, which will help highlight any gaps in their knowledge or application that may be present. 

Allow space for deeper exploration

To encourage a more reflective mindset among learners, sometimes less is more. Try to identify parts of the course that aren’t strictly necessary to meet your objectives and include these as optional resources that learners can explore, allowing them to dive deeper into the areas they are most interested. 

The design elements covered here are just some of the ways you can incorporate reflection in your course. Think about your audience, what makes them tick, why they are completing the course, and how you can best encourage them to think about what they are learning. 

We know reflection works. We do it unconsciously all the time. The real question is, how can you do it in the online courses you build?    

Keep an eye out for more coming up on the topic of compliance elearning later this month, and feel free to get in touch if you want to know more about how we build reflection into the learning experiences we deliver for clients.


Shaping the future of learning

Kineo helps the world’s leading businesses improve performance through learning and technology. We’re proud of our reputation for being flexible and innovative, and of our award-winning work with clients across the world.

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