Today I’ve been thinking about “chunking” my course. Well actually I am thinking about breaking my course into parts and deciding how much content should be in each module. The term “chunk” is completely new to me. Previously chunking was something done with a sharp implement to vegetables, ice, wood or other solid objects (Gallagher chunked). Not so in designing a class. Prof. Pickett discusses chunks for nearly a page of this article: A Series of Unfortunate Online Events. It is like it sounds, breaking a course into organizational sections. “Chunking” even won this woman’s designation of “instructional designer’s favorite esoteric word”. The sharp implement? I supposed we’ve parted with tangible tools in favor of brains and words and wit.
The moral of the story is that there is no “right” way to chunk. Chunking applies not only to the whole course but to the individual topics as well. Everything should be broken down into easily understandable pieces. As Connie Malamed discussed in the elearning (link above) article the working memory can only hold about four things at a time. When breaking complex problems into chunks we need to keep this notion of what a person’s working memory can hold in mind. Chunk should be small. Chunks should be easy to understand. And please oh please let your chunks be fun!
Getting Started with Horses, my course, shall be chunked. What was originally 10 modules is now closer to 6. I am focusing in on the introductory information: how to understand the horse-human relationship, how to act around horses, why to act certain ways, and the very basic grooming and leading of horses.