Content Chunking Basics and Tips

Content chunking is one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot in the world of eLearning, but what does it really mean, why should you utilize it and how can you successfully chunk your corporate content?

A Chunking Overview

Content chunking basics - ideas to help present elearning contentChunking may sound like little more than a funny word, but in reality, it’s a concept that has its roots in the psychology of human learning.

The ultimate goal of chunking is to create content that’s divided into manageable sections, which helps learners avoid becoming overloaded with information. When a learner becomes overloaded, the result is corporate content that’s rendered ineffective.

Chunking is a way to approach content that’s going to most effectively appeal to a human’s working memory, meaning you’re likely to increase both comprehension and retention of information. Chunking doesn’t just mean you’re dividing information up into small sections, however.

In eLearning and the creation of web content in general, chunking often means you’re focusing on the layout and design of your content to make it easier to scan and then remember what’s being seen. This can be accomplished through any number of methods, from bulleted lists, to subheadings and bolded key phrases.

It’s similar to what you see when you read many online blogs or articles (like this one!). You’ll notice brief paragraphs and sentences broken up into sections, and you may not even realize it, but that’s the best way for your brain to read the information you’re being presented with.

The Benefits of Chunking

As mentioned, the primary benefit of chunking your content is you’re making information that’s easily incorporated into your learner’s working memory.

Other benefits include:

  • It makes it easier for you to design your corporate training and eLearning. When you’re chunking, you can really focus on designing coursework that’s reliant on the visual elements of how the content looks on the screen, which can give you a good framework from which to work during the design process.
  • Chunking content makes it easier for you to define the salient points of what you want your learner to take from your training, but it also makes it easier for them to refer back to information they need to access later, thanks to the use of headings and subheadings, lists and bolded phrases.
  • You can easily prioritize information that logically builds on the concept before it when you use chunking. You can move through your training in a way that makes sense to your learner and incorporates information already learned to move on to the next “chunk” of content.

Top Chunking Tips

Now, for the good part. Whether you’re an eLearning design master, or you’re a novice, here are three of the top chunking tips to help guide you through the creation of your training materials:

  • Based on neuroscience, the ideal amount of information to present on a single screen of your eLearning is about three to four main concepts. Set your limit at this for each of your screens, in order to get the maximum effectiveness from your training.
  • Make chunking logical. Don’t put unrelated concepts onto the same screen just because they’ll fit in terms of space. The best chunking groups related content together, and then logically moves forward, rather than moving through content randomly.
  • Put the most important and relevant information first on a screen, and then move downward toward the least important. This means you can start with the overarching concept your learner must know, and then move down the screen to provide context or secondary information, giving a background for the initial concept.

Chunking is a great way to design content because it really forces you to focus on eliminating unnecessary information, and thinking from the perspective of your learner. If you want the best return on your investment in terms of training, you need it to be effective, and utilizing concepts of chunking will help you realize the most effectiveness from your training content.

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