To Resume or Not To Resume? That Is the Question

Most e-learning authoring tools offer a bookmarking feature that gives students the choice to either pick up the course where they left off or start over at the beginning.

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What I’ve come to realize lately is that sometimes this choice does more harm than good.  Oftentimes, students don’t read carefully and/or don’t understand the impact of their choice.

Imagine an hour-long compliance course that you made it halfway through before a meeting.  When you come back to the course later in the week, you decide it might be nice to quickly click back through what you already viewed just to remind yourself what the content was.  Now your progress is cleared, and because it is a compliance course where you must view everything on every slide before continuing, you are stuck going through the entire half-hour again—wishing now you had clicked Yes instead of No.

Many authoring tools let you change the wording of the question.  By changing the wording, you can make it clearer what it will mean if they choose not to resume.

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Another option is to just make the decision for the student.  (Gasp!)  In most cases, a student will want to pick up where he or she left off.  And in most cases, the student can still go back from that point and start over if he or she wants to—without clearing progress.  If you select this option, the student does not get a dialog box, instead, he or she is just taken automatically to the point of departure.

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Usually, giving students choices is a good thing!  But in cases like these, it might cause frustration.  Think about the design of your course and ask yourself which option is best for your students.

Diane Elkins
Diane Elkins leads Artisan E-Learning, a custom eLearning development company specializing in the use of rapid- development tools. Diane has been in the eLearning industry since 2001, speaks regularly at national conferences about eLearning, and is co-author of the popular E-Learning Uncovered book series.

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