Instructional strategies are defined as techniques that learning and development professionals use to help learners become more strategic and independent thinkers.
There are pre-instructional strategies and post-instructional strategies, and it's important to understand the benefits of each in order to use them appropriately to help your learners accomplish tasks or meet goals.
Read on to learn more about the primary instructional strategies that you can use in-session, as well as some of the most effective post-instructional eLearning strategies.
We’ll start with some of the most highly effective instructional strategies:
Peer instruction is a foundational approach to eLearning that involves active learning. It’s generally defined as a learner-led opportunity for colleagues to discuss ideas and share answers to questions within environments, whether digital or physical, where there are additional opportunities to further interact with the instructor.
Compared to traditional employee training programs, this type of instructional eLearning strategy is faster and a lot less expensive.
A discussion forum is a great example of an effective peer learning strategy.
It helps your teams complete courses and retain more knowledge. It also gives your learners a voice and helps you crowdsource the best answers.
Best of all, a discussion forum allows you to address learner questions quickly and easily.
Furthermore, you can engage subject-matter experts to answer more specific questions, which will not only benefit your current learners but future learners as well.
Ultimately, you’ll be able to save time and money, while boosting the learning outcomes from your L&D initiatives.
Gamification, or game-based learning, is another great way to build a simple, yet powerful instructional learning strategy.
It’s used by many L&D professionals to increase engagement and improve the quality of learning.
There are many different game elements to choose from, but they fall into two major categories:
A case study is an instructional strategy that is more spontaneous than other structured group projects. It can help learners bridge the gap between theoretical learning and practical application.
One way to do this is to integrate real-world scenarios into your training material, asking learners to solve hypothetical problems they might experience in an actual situation on the job or elsewhere in their life. For example, if you’re working on a training course for customer support teams, you can devise several scenarios for how employees should react to different kinds of customer complaints.
Working on case studies will also encourage learners to think critically about the course material they've learned, as opposed to simply reciting points they memorized.
Post instructional eLearning strategies are those that allow the instructor and learners to assess their understanding of the content covered in the training course.
At the end of each online course, it’s highly recommended that you include a short quiz for your learners. While some of us may have dreaded taking tests in school, eLearners often want their instructors to give them tests and quizzes so that they can ensure a proper and full understanding of the material.
By reviewing the material in a quiz or test format, eLearners are better able to reiterate to themselves what they have learned, making the knowledge more likely to move from short-term to long-term memory.
In addition to ensuring retention of the new knowledge, quizzes also allow learners to see where they are having difficulties and what parts of the material they need to spend more time reviewing.
From my experience as a college professor and online course instructor, learners often appreciate feedback from their teachers, whether that’s in a college classroom or in a work setting.
This means that you shouldn’t just give out quizzes and let your students see what they got right and what they got wrong. When you do this, you only tell your learners what they need to focus on, but you don’t necessarily tell them how best to learn that material.
However, when you offer personalized feedback to your learners after the quiz, you can better help each learner understand the material in the way that is best for their unique learning preference.
Quizzes and tests allow eLearners to understand better what they know and what they do not know. Follow up assignments, however, go one step further:
While they allow those who may be struggling with some of the material to better understand whatever they’re having difficulties with, it also allows those who fully understand the material to dive deeper and learn more.
Thus, when creating ‘homework’ assignments as part of your online courses, both types of learners should be given consideration.
While it may add a little extra work on your end, I’ve found that it’s often best to create specific assignments to help reiterate the material for those struggling, while also creating separate assignments that push proficient learners to tackle new material related to what they’ve already learned.
One of the best ways to do this isn’t by just giving students a list of questions to answer but also by supplying complimentary content in the form of blog articles, other on-site content, additional online courses, podcast episodes, social media content, etc.
A great post-instructional eLearning strategy is to create complementary content for your online course.
For example, you might start a blog and write articles, create and host a podcast related to your online course material, or even create related courses that expand on and go deeper into the material you’ve already introduced.
The purpose of complementary content, however, shouldn’t only be to introduce new material, but also to help ensure that learners retain what was learned in the course.
For example, if you are teaching an online course about technical analysis, then it might make sense to interview a professional trader who uses technical analysis as part of their job on a podcast episode.
You can use this complimentary podcast material effectively by sharing it with your learners at the end of the course. Better yet, you can encourage your learners to listen to the episode and write their thoughts and what they took from the podcast as part of a post-instructional homework assignment.
This allows online course instructors to easily integrate distinct post-instructional eLearning strategies together as part of the educational process. It also allows learners to become acquainted with practical applications of the course material, leading to greater memory retention and an increased ability to apply new knowledge in real-world situations.
You can even include interactive content to help make your online courses and the complementary material more engaging for your learners. Some types of interactive content you can use include:
While these interactive elements of the course may be included within the course itself, they can also be included in complimentary content as part of a post-instructional eLearning strategy.
For example, infographics summarizing the course material can be prominently shared on a blog article while specific pages of your brand’s website may be designated for games, surveys, and other more interactive educational exercises.
Furthermore, images, including memes, can also be shared across social media or email newsletters to make the course material not just interactive but also entertaining.
You can share this content via your online course platform or LMS (learning management system).
As an L&D professional, you want all your learners to get the most from your material. Fortunately, with the right pre-instructional and post-instructional eLearning strategies you can boost engagement and retention so students get the most from your courses.
Use these seven instructional strategies to help you prepare your learners for the effective accomplishment of their tasks and goals.
Over to you. What other instructional strategies do you know of that you can use to improve your learners’ experience? Share your thoughts below!