The best instructional design tools for effective online learning

You have an idea for an e-course and maybe some content (i.e. blog posts, notes, video or an e-book to pull apart). But you wonder….

What are the best tools I should use to deliver an effective online learning experience?

Here are three categories I believe will make a great course.

Easy Navigation

  • Your course needs to be laid out well making it easy to find the content and follow the direction of the course. Getting lost or confused hinders learning.


  • Active learning is much more effective than passive learning. Get students to do something with the content. Don’t make courses that are just talking heads reading slides – ugh!


Long entries of text is not popular anymore with people wanting chunked content, rich media like videos, and visually appealing environments. So much can be expressed in images or shared with audio.

 For more see
The Best E-Course Resources


Easy Navigation

There are a number of strategies to create a navigable e-course. There is the technical layout of accessing the content, and there is the structural layout of the lessons and content. Both are vital. Here are tools to help with both:

Technical Layout

Lesson Structure

Engaging Courses

Regardless if we facilitate the course or it’s a self-study version we need to consider how to make them active learners. No more talking heads reading slides! See how I engage students in my e-course (Your Great & Gorgeous E-Course) Consider these ideas and tools:

  • Create quizzes to test essential knowledge before moving to the next lesson. Try online services or the quiz feature of some learning management system. Check out ClassMarker , and Make a Quiz
  • Create an online learning community by asking students to post answers to questions or parts of their work for feedback by everyone. Use free discussion groups, such as Google Groups or a free plugin such as bbPress
  • Have students compose a document together for a collaborative activity using wikis, which are live document software anyone can access, edit and update in real time. Learn more about Dokuwiki and Wikispaces
  • Have students present their fab ideas in a live webinar using Google Hangout or GoToMeeting giving them 5 minutes each and 3 slides to display their stuff.

Getting Visual

Not only are visual courses more appealing but multimedia can be strategically used to display content in clever and educational ways that avoids too much text.


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