eLearning Navigation: Locked vs. Unlocked

When it comes to high quality custom eLearning, “content is king!”.  Including rich multimedia elements like audio, video, graphics, animation, and typography are  critical design considerations. However, a feature often overlooked is the type of navigation that will be used for the course and whether or not users will be allowed to move freely through the course or be locked into a pre-determined navigation path.  Before deciding whether to use locked or unlocked eLearning navigation, it is important to be familiar with the benefits of each.

Locked eLearning Navigation – Structured Use

In locked navigation, learners can only move forward or back through each screen in the course. They cannot skip lessons or modules. Users must progress through the content in the order determined by the designer. In some cases, learners are required to complete a quiz or test at the end of module and earn a minimum score before moving on.

Locked Navigation

  • Learners are required to visit every screen
  • No content is missed or skipped
  • Core skills can be developed in sequential order
  • Assures that employees view important policy information

Unlocked eLearning Navigation – User Flexibility

Unlocked navigation allows learners to access portions of the content in a flexible order. Movement within in the eLearning course allows open access to all lessons or modules. User can close modules mid-stream or skip sections completely. Unlocked navigation is typically used when no quiz completion or minimum score is required.

Unlocked Navigation

  • Learners choose the order of viewing
  • Adaptable to different learning styles or goals
  • Information can be skipped, allowing learner to choose information that is pertinent to their interests or needs
  • Flexibility of returning to screens for review

In the end, both locked and unlocked navigation can be useful depending upon the specific design of the eLearning course. The designer’s ultimate goal is to create a positive learning environment that works for both the learner and the business in question.

By analyzing the business’ goals and aligning those with each element of the course, eLearning can be a positive experience regardless of the navigation choice.

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