How to Design Learner-Centered Curriculum in E-Learning

Learner-centered curriculum is not necessarily a new idea. In fact, it was born out of the dawning of the digital age when it became feasible that a learner no longer had to be an impassive online learner. With new approaches to instructional design (think the ASSURE model developed in 1999) instructional designers and curriculum developers quickly learned to harness the power of these new technological tools. However, making sure that learning is student-centered and not merely a one-way means of communicating information to the masses is a learned skill. The following list of questions will help designers ensure that their projects are student-centered:

1. Who is my intended audience - answer the questions: who is my learner, what do they do, what do they want to do, what do they dislike doing, what is their experience/background/education?

2. What technology skills do my learners have already? What skills are they lacking? This question will guide you when designing simulations and other learner interactions.

3. What language or cultural differences need to be considered? These types of differences can present barriers to learning and a designer needs to identify these potential problems upfront.

4. What employee tasks and responsibilities are within the scope of this project? Identifying task requirements that participants are expected to complete on the job. Note how often the task is performed, how important the task is in achieving organizational objectives and the level of difficulty experienced in performing the task. If this information is not documented, source it from knowledgeable staff or managers.

E-learning environments are constantly evolving and learners should be given the knowledge, skills, and technology to realize their own potential in an active, collaborative setting. Because of this instructional designers and facilitators must provide learners with the opportunities to achieve the intended learning objectives by designing learning activities that value diversity of perspectives and provide substantial opportunities for collaborative or partnership learning. Continued evaluation of your learning activities and asking for learner feedback are other ways to provide insight into how to do this.

Laurel Silk is currently the vice-prerident of instructional design at SilkWeb Consulting & Development LLC. SilkWeb is a full-service instructional design firm specializing in custom e-learning and print curriculum solutions for higher education, automotive, and the financial services industries. Founded in 1997, SilkWeb offers business and learning consulting services to both small and large businesses. Other services include MS PowerPoint development, presentation development, and print curriculum services.