Quality Standards in elearning Content: iGOT Karmayogi

There has been a proliferation of various kinds of online learning courses or programs designed for working professionals. In spite of accessible tools and methods to design effective and engaging content for learners, the learners often face several challenges. For example, there is a lack of cohesion and consistency in the learning message due to overlapping content in texts, images, graphics, etc. This makes it difficult for learners to learn in an effective manner. Hence, e-learning doesn’t depend on technology alone but the quality assurance is an important factor as well. 

Content quality is an important consideration during the content development and onboarding process. The quality standards provide specific benchmarks and requirements to assess courses and highlight areas for improvement. These are also used to demonstrate the elements of quality as well as the overall level of quality. There are several course design rubric standards or scorecards such as National Standards for Quality Online Courses , OLC Quality Scorecard, CDC Quality Training Standards  etc., intended for use with online or blended courses. 

The foremost challenge in drafting quality standards is to frame a usable set of benchmarks and indicators while remaining flexible to accommodate a wide range of program types and resources. The difficulty also lies in operationalising the adoption of the standards and indicators by including explanations and examples. Above all, the quality standards should be instrumental in ensuring that the content facilitates learning and application of knowledge and skills at the workplace. 

The iGOT Karmayogi (iGOT KY)  platform is envisioned to build a repository of high-quality content from best-in-class content providers. Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India has conceptualised a guiding document iGOT Karmayogi Content Framework and Quality Assurance framework to design, develop and review all content on iGOT KY. This quality assurance is achieved through standard processes and guidelines for content creation and validation at critical points during pre-onboarding, onboarding and post-onboarding stages so as to ensure that the content onboarded meets the minimum quality requirements.  A useful Course Analysis Tool (CAT) has been conceptualised to aid content providers to evaluate the content readiness for iGOT Karmayogi and understand quality assurance parameters, methods, practices, and exemplars.

This post attempts to introduce and derive the quality parameters using the first principles based on instructional design and adult learning theories.

According to adult learning theories, adults do not learn like children in the sense that they are more discerning in what they are willing to learn. Hence, adult learning characteristics, as outlined by Malcolm Knowles, need to be factored in while designing effective learning experiences for adult learners like public officials.

  • Principle #1:Relevancy oriented: Adult learners need to clearly see what they are expected to learn and how this shall benefit them. Motivated learners are more likely to apply their knowledge and skills at the workplace.
    This translates into the following design recommendations:
    • Ensure content includes learning objectives and are aligned with competencies
      • Learning objectives should be established at the outset of each course as they help learners gauge if the training will be relevant and useful.
      • All instructional materials should be aligned with one or more learning objectives.
  • Principle #2: Goal-oriented, practical and experiential: Adult learners are motivated to learn when they find the content to be both significant and relevant with regard to solving problems and applying new learnings immediately.  Adult learners are shaped by their experiences and learn best by reflecting on those experiences.
    This translates into the following design recommendations: 
    • Ensure content is accurate and relevant and includes opportunities for learner engagement
      • Learners are given examples (case studies, scenario-based, etc.) and asked to explore practical applications of the course in their setting.
      • Learners are provided access to an informal and collaborative environment such as online discussion/ debate, group project, learning games, etc to share experiences and learn from others’ experiences.
    • Ensure content includes opportunities for learner assessment 
      • Learners are provided feedback on practice exercises to support learning. 
  • Principle #3: Internally motivated and self-directed: Adult learners are motivated if they have options to set their agenda for learning and direct their own learning. Since individual differences broaden and harden with age, learning experiences should be accessible and inclusive for different learners.
    This translates into the following design recommendations:
    • Ensure content is designed for usability and accessibility
      • Learners should be able to complete the course in a self-paced manner over several short sessions.
      • Learning activities should comprise shorter bytes of content to enable learners to absorb more information without feeling overwhelmed.
      • A clear learning path/navigation is defined, and learners are able to track their journey.
      • Various instructional barriers should be factored in while ensuring accessible and inclusive learning experiences.
    • Ensure content includes follow-up support for the learner
      • Learners should have access to additional resources such as short guides, factsheets, checklists, job aids, infographics, FAQs etc. to reinforce content and learning.

The above quality parameters, derived from adult learning theories and instructional design principles, are perfectly aligned with the 6 dimensions of quality on which the content gets reviewed and evaluated before getting onboarded on iGOT Karmayogi platform.

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