I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of asking questions in E-Learning. Questions interrupt passive learning and require people to think. Depending on how questions are asked, they can be instrumental in demonstrating how to apply new knowledge on the job. Questions help learners process information and move knowledge from short term to long term memory. At MicroAssist we use learning checks throughout lessons to help learners focus on important concepts. The questions we ask in a final assessment also help learners concentrate on the most important aspects of the training.
Jacob Nielsen just posted his view on how tests can enhance learning. His posting applies to websites in general, not E-Learning sites. However, his observations about the amount people remember emphasize the importance of assessments. I have reservations in directing anyone to Jacob Nielsen in relation to E-Learning because he believes the web is not well suited for learning. I think that opinion stems from his expertise on pure use of HTML. I agree with him that HTML is not well suited for online learning unless the training is developed by a skilled web designer, but this is getting off topic into an area that could go on for quite a while.
Nielsen’s “Alertbox” provides terrific evidence that testing is an important part of the learning process.
Linda Warren is an instructional designer with the MicroAssist Elearning Division