What makes a great course?
Here are a few foundational things we consider when we
test a course.
1. COURSE OBJECTIVES & EXAM
important to understand the objectives upon which the course and
the exam are
based. Course objectives are the specific learning points that
guide from simple
principles to more complex ones. These objectives are
the learning plan
for the course, complete with starting points and
They may or may not relate directly to the exam
objectives. Course objectives are often defined by the
relationship between the technology and the job function it serves. Exam
objectives are the principle of knowledge that are required to pass an exam
and are ideally listed and specified somewhere in the
to the level of language the course is written to as well as the
skill with which the words are put together. Dictionary style
readability is an example of poor courseware or training content
readability, often precise and factual but boring. In contrast, a
biographical explanation is still full of facts but written with an
engaging personality. Each course usually fits somewhere in-between
these two examples.
3. COURSE ADDRESSES ALL OF THE EXAM
OBJECTIVES REQUIRED BY THE EXAM
In addition to
listing relevant exam objectives, a good course will make sure the
course delivers specific contextual coverage of each objective.
This is a key to the student's opportunity to learn the content
required by the exam. A complete review of every relevant
exam objective is an essential baseline requirement of a training
product designed to facilitate professional certification.
4. COURSE PROVIDES A DETAILED
DESCRIPTION OF THE TARGET AUDIENCE
In order to
assure relevance of the course content and methodology, effective
courseware identifies that a student's level of comprehension,
interests and experience should be in order to effectively learn
from the course. Students may become confused and or dissatisfied
when the course is determined to be above or below their level of
interest or experience.
5. COURSE SPECIFICALLY IDENTIFIES
WHETHER PREREQUISITES ARE REQUIRED
clearly state the prerequisite skills a student must have in order
to effectively learn from the course. This requirement is closely
related to the defining of a target audience but goes further to
into the details of specific required skills and should be clearly
delineated within the course. Specification of prerequisite
skills is also helpful to the student in mapping out a plan to
6. COURSE INCLUDES A COMPREHENSIVE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
throughout the course should be made as easy and understandable as
possible to facilitate an understanding of logical content flow in
the learning process. A foundational table of contents is a
critical element in demonstrating that content is presented in an
understandable, logical and navigable manner.
7. COURSE INCLUDES A
A foreword gives
the student a clear and concise direction for the course.
Understanding the context of the information, the flow of the
instruction and the goal of the learning is a critical factor in
helping students to prepare to engage, absorb, and understand new
8. COURSE INCLUDES AN
An accurate index
enables cross-referencing of concepts and facilitates the finding
of specific topics and references. Students may also use a course
as a reference tool before and after their certification exam, so
quickly finding information should be made as easy as possible.
9. COURSE INCLUDES A
In the learning
process, new terms, phrases, acronyms and naming conventions are
normally introduced as new concepts are described. While students
learn the definitions of terms in the text of the courseware, it is
also the function of a courseware product to be a ready reference
for continued learning and referral. A glossary is a useful tool in
the learning process as terms are continuously referenced
throughout the text, providing an easy resource for learning
refreshment if questions arise during additional study.
10. COURSE INCLUDES A RELATED PRE AND
Learning is made
more effective when students are able to establish a benchmark
level of comprehension in the subject being studied. A
pre-assessment of knowledge and understanding of the subject
enables students to evaluate the effectiveness of course
instruction when compared to a post-assessment of knowledge gained.
In addition to pre-assessment, post assessments are a
critical instructional element because they help identify the level
of gained knowledge. Post assessments, when combined with a
pre-assessment, can improve the learning experience by identifying
areas of improvement, and where improvement is still necessary.
Post assessments indicate readiness to challenge an exam, and are a
good indication of a student's ability to perform the skills
required by the related job role.
11. COURSE INCLUDES A QUIZ OR
ASSESSMENT AT THE END OF EACH SECTION
assessment provides a constant challenge to retention and allows
for goal-based learning. Information is retained in permanent
memory more readily when it is challenged and applied as it is
learned. Quizzes and other assessments at the end of each chapter
help solidify the concepts associated with each exam objective, and
provide a basis for memorization.
12. COURSE CONTAINS LAB ASSIGNMENTS OR
retained more permanently when it is applied in a real-life
situation. Additionally, application and experimentation leads to
familiarity with learned solutions as well as abstract application
of learned solutions to unexpected situations. Achieving success on
a certification exam is highly correlated with experience and
involvement with the skills being tested.