Instructional design is an art. An art that inherently taps into your capabilities as an imparter of knowledge, a teacher. But more importantly, instructional designers have more to do with effective and engaging delivery of learner content. Ensuring maximum impact.
Instructional design is all about minutely gauging the requirements of your learner audience. Designers base their instructional strategies on this very analysis and tailor content to target these needs.
A great course designer is as good as his/her choice of tools to design the content. And in this age of incredible computing technology, designers have access to a wide variety of software applications that enable them to do what they do best.
Delivering the content is just as seminal, if not more. Learning Management Systems facilitate efficient ways to do so, with LMSs like Moodle, Blackboard and WordPress leading the pack with innovative approaches to elearning. If you happened to be surprised by the inclusion of WordPress in the list, a good idea would be to take a look at this post where I talk about how WordPress is exceptional as an LMS.
WordPress is all about flexibility, functionality, and experience. It is home to a massive repository of extensions, that render it capable of handling any and every form of elearning content with ease and grace.
The more the merrier. Take a look at these:
Your WordPress website as an LMS? Take a pick from LearnDash or Sensei. WP Courseware is another plugin that boasts of a drag-and-drop course builder that sets up your content in minutes! Features like quizzes, reporting and social learning further enrich the learner’s experience.
An additional boost are themes that are specially optimized for elearning content for your website. Academy, WPLMS, University and Enfold anyone?
Image & Video
WordPress has plugins like Aviary, EDIK and WP Images Pro that can let you create all but most complex of graphical content. Add ons that make for beautiful image and video galleries are a plenty. Grand Flagallery, Gallery Bank – Photo Galleries & Album, Huge IT Gallery, and WP Images to name a few.
Videos are best managed by Wonder Plugin, Gmedia Gallery and Video Gallery. Perfect for video lessons and webinars.
Survey and Data Collection
Powerful form builder and document generation plugins let you handle data in anyway you like. Gravity Forms & Gravity PDF, Ninja Form and Formidable Forms are adept at just that, and can be used to create customized surveys and data forms for a host of requirements.
Video Conferencing and Virtual Classroom
RumbleTalk Group Chat, Community Chat and Live Chat are your best bet for enabling video conference on WordPress. Designers can model content that has learner present in a virtual classroom, which is known to trigger high retention capacity amongst the students.
Plugins like these can be integrated to work in sync with your LMS, so that your users never miss a video session with the lecturer and their peers.
Project Management and Tracking
If your users are going to be working on projects and assignments, you would definitely feel the need to track the projects. Project Panorama and WP Project Manager are two amazing Project Management plugins, that keep complete track of your assignments. Both the plugins are loaded with useful features like time tracking, to do lists, milestones and front end management.
Social and Discussions
BuddyPress is one hell of a social plugin, as is evident by 200,000 odd downloads over the years. It adds a social medium to your WordPress Website where users can see live feeds of the various activities associated with the group. They can send friend requests, communicate via direct messages and also set up a complete profile page. Learning is never as much fun as when it’s done in groups.
Discussion Forums can be taken care of by bbPress. This social plugin lets your website have a variety of discussion forums, perfect for users to collaborate on topics and benefit from mutual contributions.
I wouldn’t be able to list down all the plugins that can help you with instructional design if I had a whole day. Really, there’s just so much to choose from. Plugins like Digress.It and E-Learning Critical Thinking let you embed sidenotes, reminders, tips and questions to your lesson text, while Teach Press and Xerte Online will create advanced, researc oriented courses.
Turn up the quizzing heat with mTouch Quiz and SS Quiz, both extensions with advanced quiz creating capabilities and wide range of question types, or if you’re looking for something even more customized, hire the right professional to code it in for you.
Either way, WordPress has a treasure trove full of offerings for elearning enthusiasts. And it’s only going to get better.