Creating engaging learning and learning that is retentive at the same time, within the asynchronous environment is not only a challenge, but a critical piece for success to the end user.

Take the “Birth of a Tornado” module and compare it to Pappas’ six steps for success in asynchronous modules. The module is interactive (step 1), allowing you to click through the slides, using interactive graphics showing flow of air, temperature, etc. The images do a great job of showing a visual picture of what is happening and how tornadoes happen, in a clear, user-friendly, concise way (step 2). Step 3 is a little more challenging in trying to have applications for the graphic module, but understanding how tornadoes happen and even the simple section confirming they are less than 15 minutes, assists those watching in a real life situation. It may feel like hours, but in reality, it is not an all day thunderstorm, or long-lasting hurricane that sits in the gulf for a day. There are fewer ways to apply real world benefits and applications, but there are still some there for this module.

The last steps of Pappas “success” for learning modules gets a bit harder to see with this particular module example. Using message boards or online discussion allows for engagement and can lead to additional learning. There is an “email us” and “write to us” section for the module, but this is type of communication does not afford the opportunity for discussion or future/further engagement. Because the module sticks to strictly scientific facts and graphics, a story is not included in the module that personalizes the learning (step 5). There is an example throughout of what a tornado is and how it happens, but a slide or two showing why being in a lower place on the ground (leave your car and get to the nearest ditch) would be helpful because of air flow, pressure, objects flying, etc. The last step, allowing the learning to recap and analyze what they have learned is not included in this module. A simple three question graphic at the end would have been a good recap for the learner and allowed for future retention of the material.

This example is a really interesting module to compare to what Pappa’s is saying, because on the surface, at first glance, the module looks good and like it would serve all the learning purposes needed. Upon further reflection of better learning and retention though (discussion, assessment of what has been learned, etc.) it is clear that additional information should have been added to strengthen what the module was created for. A great reminder to all of us in IDTE for the importance of all the components and learning modules being critical to the end-user’s success.