Module Three: How to Structure Each Chunk?
What is Chunking?
Chunking is breaking up a big piece of information into smaller chunks. The experimental psychologist George Miller found that "The Magic Number 7, Plus or Minus 2" described the maximum quantity of ideas, facts, or issues that people are able to actively attend to at any one time.

To enhance and maximize the learning potential, online instructors are advised to follow this rule and chunk and/or divide content into manageable units of information. Chunking the course into smaller portions helps quell student anxiety on succeeding in the course. Instead of having all the course material appear on one screen, it allows the students to be accountable also for moving through the course in stages in a timely fashion on their own terms.

Most importantly, the 'chunking' of a course reduces student pressures to an extent. Rather than feeling overwhelmed at being barraged with an entire course's labor in one breath, they take in the course one module at a time. It also increases student success because they feel a sense of accomplishment upon completing each module and learn how to better handle each individual course after a set of modules. As the move forward having grasped the course's principles through its mini-representation in a module, they are better able to tackle the breadth of the course one step at a time. Chunking the information in distance learning courses can help students who have to fit their studying into small time periods during the day, to comprehend all the information you have prepared for them. Beginning with the main concepts the instructor wants to teach, breaking it down into the smaller topics and segments in the order that makes sense, will make planning easier to accomplish. This approach will make it easier for the students to understand.

Chunk Your Way to an "A"
A good online or face-to-face course that is facilitated by a good instructor will contain items that help learners prioritize, organize and identify key elements in the material to be learned. The following structures exhibit some ideas that a mere beginning but designed to provoke the endless possibilities that are available in the virtual classroom.
The following structures exhibit some ideas that a mere beginning but designed to provoke the endless possibilities that are available in the virtual classroom.
Basic Course Structure
Basic Course Structure
Here are some common "chunks" that make up an online and face-to-face course
  • Welcome: Some sort of webpage that welcomes the learner (e.g. instructor welcome video or photo (introducing the instructor).
  • Read Me First: How to navigate the course, Methodologies by which the course is taught, such as discussion, role playing, lecture, simulation, group work, etc.
  • Syllabus: The primary function of a syllabus is to provide the learner with details about the learning objectives and associated assessments for the course.
  • Objectives: Learning objectives, Are objectives measurable? Include course policies, procedures, attendance, grading.
  • Module Screens: This is the area that holds the core content. Each section can have its own overview, instructions, content, assessment, and summary. Method of Evaluation: Criteria for determining student grades; number of exams, written papers, oral presentations, etc. and the weights assigned to each; final grade determination.
  • Learning Outcomes: The knowledge and skills that students are expected to demonstrate upon completion of a course.
  • Resources: Additional content and resources that augment the course and support ongoing learning.
  • Course Evaluation: Services needed to collect and summarize student ratings of instruction, the information provided helps students select courses, assists faculty in instructional development, and informs administrative decision-making.
Circular Structure
Circular Structure - Helps to represent the connectedness and interdependence of all modules. Since we end where we begin, material can be reviewed and added upon course completion by the instructor. In the circular design, the modules can be faded or partially seen until and unless the student completes the tasks of the preceding module before they appear in full color and are accessible to the student.
Circular Structure
Creative Module Designs
Fancier and more creative module designs that allow for creative graphics that keeps student autonomy at its core. With adaptive release, student will only have access to full contents of the next module upon finishing the assignments of the preceding module.
Creative Module Designs Creative Module Designs
Make Your "Chunked" Course Come Alive
Simple and Elegant Tools
Chunking is particularly important for online learning. Without an instructor to answer questions and to guide the learning process, eLearning content has to be organized in a logical and progressive way through "chunking". Chunking doesn't only work for your typical linear instruction, it also works for learning objects, for non-linear approaches to learning as well as discovery learning, because it groups together conceptually related information. Content that is conceptually related is meaningful, making it easier to understand.
Simple and Elegant Tools
Guidelines for Chunking Content
If one chunk is too small for students to understand a concept, group several chunks into a manageable unit. The unit then serves as a structure to present and recall the concept. Provide time estimates for assignments and asynchronous activities.
How to Structure Each Chunk?
How to Structure Each Chunk? (PDF version)
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