I have never said, “You’ve chunked that too small” when working with teachers on creating digital content. Never.

Classroom teachers spend years honing year-long themes, semester syllabi, units of study, weekly plans, and lesson plans. They can scale-up with ease; they can quickly tell you where the current lesson fits in the grade level scope and sequence. It is scaling a concept down to online content where all educators could use practice.

The secret to classroom content online is the realization that you cannot put everything online. And then reminding yourself of that every time you create online content.

Truncate your Content

challenge: chunking

Most classroom teachers are working within a Blended Learning environment. That should relieve pressure to include the entire classroom experience online. You want Big Impact, Little Effort; and to maximize what an online presence can do for your learners, your focus is building online content which introduce/reinforce important concepts.

Once you focus your online content to just the big ideas, you now have to choose the chunks of content.

Select items which have “replay” value. Do not video yourself and post it. But instead, think about what you want your students to “Go Back To.” You don’t want them rewatching a lecture, say it & mean it, you don’t want them rewatching a lecture. You do want them to go back to slides from class to find answers to the Study Guide. You do want them to reference primary documents or reference texts for meaning. You do want them to participate in a discussion around an idea. Those are excellent chunks of important concepts to share online.

Size matters when chunking content.

It is better to have multiple pages on a concept than create a scroll-fest. Aim for no “chunk” of content longer than the predominant screen students view on at school (I personally omit mobile viewing from this caveat). Do not worry about spreading a chunk of content across multiple pages. You can tie them back together with a smart naming convention, “Background on Rome, Part 1,” “Background on Rome, Part 2,” “Background on Rome, Part 3,” or of structural features of your platform:

 Canvas Module Organization OneNote Sample Organization HTML Tabs for Organization

Especially if you spread a chunk of content across multiple pages, include a visual cue that ties together one chunk of content. {see post: Create Perfect HTML Pages, Modules in 

your LMS}

Visual Cues on different pages with the same topic

Shorten your Words & Sentences

The words you use and style with which you write is a little different too. Use fewer words, more precise/clear as possible, and less formal/more conversational tones when able.

This type of writing may take revision and feedback from your students to perfect.

Your writing should read as the voice in the learner’s head which guides them through the learning. For many traditional teachers, the online portion of their class is less formal – in the same way they speak to their students in person when not giving  a lecture.

Consider your urge to put more words on a PowerPoint slide and then cleanse yourself with some PenchaKucha. Now rinse and repeat with your online content.

Create Milestones

Like toddlers on a road trip, your online content could be unimaginable lengths for your learners to travel. Let’s build in many reachable milestone on this journey.

Make your modules or units of instruction predictable in length and composition. {see post: Blending Your Instruction: Make it or Break it} When students can predict what is coming next from online instruction they anticipate content, structure, and are learning! Aim for similar number of items, representing a similar amount of work. Eventually students learn how to pace the chunks of your online content.

Feel free to build content up to face-to-face events as milestones to celebrate together in the classroom.

Classroom teachers spend years building up content. Be gentle with yourself as you learn to break it down. It is scaling a concept down to online content where all educators could use practice.