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What makes a great course?  

Here are a few foundational things we consider when we test a course.  


1. COURSE OBJECTIVES & EXAM OBJECTIVES

It is 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 desired  outcomes. 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 course. 

2. CONTENT READABILITY 

Readability refers 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 

Courseware should 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 achieve certification. 

6. COURSE INCLUDES A COMPREHENSIVE TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Navigation 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 FOREWORD

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 concepts appropriately.

8. COURSE INCLUDES AN INDEX 

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 GLOSSARY

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 POST-ASSESSMENT EXAM 

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 

Continuous 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 WRITTEN EXERCISES

Information is 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.


 

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