Course Content Chunking

What does it mean to “chunk” content?

Chunking content is the process of taking a large amount of information and breaking it down into smaller, more comprehensible pieces. These smaller pieces of information are easier for your students to recall. Additionally, smaller amounts of information help to minimize text overload.

Meyer (2016) suggested several ways to make content more understandable for your students:

  • Using short paragraphs with white space in between
  • Utilizing short lines (50-75 characters) of text
  • Grouping related items in a section with appropriate labeling 
  • Using commonly accepted chunking methods to break up strings of letters or numbers (phone numbers, etc.)
  • Using Visual Cues to Help Chunk Content

Chunking content is not only combining text elements to improve students’ recall. It also includes incorporating visual cues to help your students identify and understand the information you are providing. This will help students to more easily identify information within your course.

There are several ways to use visual clues in your course (Meyer, 2016):

  • Creating headings and subheadings that are distinct from the main text
  • Identifying keywords using bold or italic text
  • Using bulleted or numbered lists
  • Providing a brief summary of longer text

How can I chunk information in my courses?

When designing and building your courses, you are likely already chunking information into modules by book chapter, topic, or a specific time frame (week 1, week 2, etc.). Information can be further separated out within each module, whether by course component (learning objectives, course materials, and assignments) or by the content itself (a chemistry unit on the atom could be chunked out by proton, neutron, and electron). A combination of chunking by both course component and content has the most potential to help students be successful in your course.

How can I chunk multimedia in my courses?

There are several ways to chunk multimedia for better student understanding. For example, in a course that uses a variety of tools, you can create a menu that includes tools that serve similar purposes (Kaltura, YouTube, etc.). Within video content, you also have the option of creating chapters that allow students to easily navigate to the content they are seeking (Meyer, 2016). The chaptering feature is available in Kaltura. For more information please visit the Kaltura Chaptering Guide KB article.

What’s my takeaway?

It is important to understand that course components and related course content should be chunked together utilizing the processes outlined above. Chunking information will help to maximize the potential for student success in your course.

 

Reference

Meyer, K. (2016). How chunking helps content processing. Nielsen Norman Group. Retrieved from How Chunking Helps Content Processing.

Written for the Accessibility Network by IT@UC eLearning Instructional Designer, Megan Wuebker.