How to Organise Information for Your eLearning Module



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  • Have you ever been in a supermarket and walked from aisle to aisle, unable to find what you need? 
  • Have you ever been online shopping and given up on buying something because the process was too hard?
  • Have you ever been on a website looking for information, only to exit because you could not find what you needed? 
If you have ever thought, ‘What am I supposed to do next?’ or ‘I don’t understand how to use this’, you are encountering a problem with information architecture (The Information Architecture Institute, 2020).

You can relate this to building a house. If you want to build a great house, you hire an architect. The same goes for information spaces. Like a building, information should be planned and structured appropriately (Babich, 2017).

Information architecture is evident in the creation of websites, apps and eLearning courses. It can be applied to any product or solution. It is, “The practice of deciding how to arrange the parts of something to be understandable” (The Information Architecture Institute, 2020). Simply, it makes complex information clear and simple to digest.

Think of information architecture in terms of a library. A library has a range of content across a range of different categories and formats. A library uses information architecture to organise that content in a logical way, therefore making it easy for people to find what they need. Imagine visiting a library where the books were not categorised or organised in any way. It would take you a while to find the information that you need, right?

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From our perspective at Belvista Studios, the process of information architecture can add great value to eLearning solutions and ultimately plays a crucial role in the instructional design process. If as instructional designers, we organise content in a way that does not make sense to our learners or leaves them thinking, ‘What am I supposed to do next?’, it is unlikely that our solutions are effective or meeting the project goals.

The solutions that we create should be structured in a way that:

  • Make it easy for the learner to achieve their goal
  • Do not require the learner to think too hard. 
(Barnett, 2019)

Here is how to use information architecture for your learning solutions. 

1. Identify Your Project Goal

Before you can start the information architecture process, you need to become clear on your project goal.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I trying to achieve?
  • What are my behaviour change objectives?
2. Identify Your Learners

It is important to identify who will be using your solution. By understanding your learners you can gain valuable insight into how to organise and present information in a way that makes sense to them.

Create a persona of your learner. We recommend using this free online persona generator. This will help you gain a deep understanding of who your learners are along with their challenges, motivations, needs and wants.

If you do not have a strong understanding of who your learners are, we recommend conducting user interviews. Read our blog on ‘How to Conduct Successful User Interviews to Get the Information You Need’.

3. Identify Your Content

List the content that is required to meet your project goal. Ask yourself, ‘What information would my learners need for them to act in a way that meets the project goal’? For example, if you are creating an online induction, your content may be:

  • Location of workstation
  • Location of amenities
  • Organisational values in action
  • Accessing the Intranet
  • Role expectations
  • Probation process
  • Team goals.
4. Categorise Your Content

A great way to categorise your content is through a card sorting exercise. Write each content element onto a physical piece of card or sticky note and then categorise the elements into logical groups.

For example, you could categorise the example content as per the below:










Once you have completed this process you will have a high-level strategy for the content that will be included in your solution as well as how it will be organised (information architecture on point!).

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5. Create an Information Map

You can now generate an information map.

Your information map should show how learners can get from one part of content to another. Ask yourself, ‘Will the solution be linear or can learners visit any element of content whenever they like?’

In the book ‘Information Architecture for the World Wide Web’, Rosenfeld and Morville (2006), note that the core components of information architecture are:

  • Organisation Schemes and Structures: How you categorise and structure information
  • Labeling Systems: How you represent information
  • Navigation Systems: How users browse or move through information
  • Search Systems: How users look for information.
Through creating an information map you will visually show how your information is categorised and structured (Organisation Schemes and Structures). Also consider:

  • Whether your content is represented correctly (Labelling System).
    • Have you used labels that reflect the content in a simple way and that will enable learners to understand what information they are about to receive? E.g. Will learners relate with the terminology 'Probation process?’ 
  • How learners will navigate the solution (Navigation Systems).
    • Would it be logical for the learner to visit the content in a linear format or should they choose what content they see and when?
  • Whether learners can search for information (Search Systems)
    • What questions will learners have and how will they find answers? 
See an example of an information map below.

Information Map (Barnett, 2019).

6. Test with Your Learners

Once you have identified the content required to meet your project goal and how it will be organised, you are ready to test it with your learners.

Organise for a sample of your learners to look at the content and how it is categorised, structured, labelled, navigated and found (e.g. via a search function) and have them provide you with feedback.

Ask them:

  • Would you be confident in doing X after receiving this content (leading to the business goal being met)?
  • Is this content categorised and structured in a logical way?
  • Is this content labelled in a way that is familiar to you?
  • Is the way you navigate the content logical?
  • Is the way you can find content useful?
That is it for this blog on How to Organise Information for Your eLearning Module. By incorporating information architecture into your eLearning design you are enabling your learners to understand what they are doing, how to find what they need, what is available to them and what to expect (Usability.gov, 2020). 

If you would like to discuss information architecture in further detail please do not hesitate to contact our passionate founder Kim via kim@belvistastudios.com or by connecting with her on LinkedIn.

References

Babich, N. (2017). A Beginner’s Guide to Information Architecture for UX Designers. Retrieved from https://theblog.adobe.com/a-beginners-guide-to-information-architecture-for-ux-designers/.

Barnett, C.R. [CareerFoundry]. (2019, July 25). A Beginner’s Guide To Information Architecture [Video file]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ij4WquJaRTc.

Rosenfeld, L., & Morville, P. (2006). Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites. Retrieved from https://www.usability.gov/what-and-why/information-architecture.html.

The Information Architecture Institute. (2020). What is Information Architecture? Retrieved from https://www.iainstitute.org/what-is-ia.

Usability.gov. (2020). Information Architecture Basics. Retrieved from https://www.usability.gov/what-and-why/information-architecture.html.


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