The great challenge for eLearning designers and developers is to build interesting courses while working within a limited timeframe. With the rise of software like Articulate, we now have the tools to rapidly create good-looking eLearning courses without the need for programming expertise. But how can you catch your learner’s full attention? How can you immerse the learner in the learning experience? Here are three strategies for creating engaging eLearning courses using Articulate.
1. Make each screen look good
Tom Kuhlmann from Articulate describes visual design as ‘a hook for the learner’. In simple terms, the better the course looks, the more the learners will enjoy it. It is worth taking the time to design a screen that is pleasing to the eye. Evaluate the impact of different fonts, colours, visual effects and aligning elements on the screen. This may be time-consuming at first, but if you are creating a template, then the basic slide design can be used again and again. This will save you time and also give your course a cohesive look and feel.
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to create visually appealing screens. If you aren’t confident about selecting a colour scheme, use Powerpoint’s suggested schemes to get you going. Under the Design tab, click on Colors.
For more design ideas and inspiration, check out example courses developed in Articulate by visiting the E-Learning Heroes website. Spend some time looking at the wide range of courses and think about how the design suits the subject matter. By evaluating the choice of colours and the placement of elements on the screen, you can learn a lot about the principles of good eLearning design.
2. Think outside the box
I went to the DevLearn conference in November and attended several Articulate workshops and sessions. I came away truly amazed at just how much could be done in Articulate. What it all comes down to is the ability to ‘think outside the box’ in your design approach.
If you have been using Articulate for some time, you are familiar with the Engage Tabs Interaction. But have you ever used it to create a workplace scenario? Scenarios are a great way to engage learners as they have to think about ‘Challenge, Choices, Consequences’. In this example I have inserted a scenario into the Introduction for the learner to think about.
Then the learner makes a choice by clicking on one of the tabs. The consequences appear on the right of the screen when they click on a tab. The learner has the option of clicking on all three tabs to learn the consequences of each choice.
This is just a simple example of using the existing Articulate tools in a fresh way. By thinking outside the box, you can add variety to your courses, and also encourage the learner to become more immersed in the learning experience.
3. Step away from the bullet points
Do you ever get tired of creating bullet point lists? Well just imagine you are the learner who has to read them! As eLearning developers, we need to consider alternative ways to present lists of information.
In the example below, I started with a list of 9 networking opportunities. But rather than putting them in a bullet point list, I found an image of 9 chairs and then created an Articulate Engage Graphics Interaction.
In this interaction, the learner has to actually click around the screen and this gets them more involved. Remember an active learner is better than a passive learner.
Another alternative to inserting bullet points on the screen is to ask learners to come up with their own list. Again, this involves making the learner active because they have to draw on their existing knowledge to compile a list of points.
In the example below I asked learners to brainstorm a list of media vehicles. When the learners click ‘Submit’, they can compare their list with your list. You can change the heading in the feedback window from ‘Thank you’ to ‘How did you go?’ by going to Player Template Builder>Text Labels and changing the Thank You Feedback Title.
This activity was created in Articulate Quizmaker as an Essay Survey question. I don’t need to track the results because the purpose of the activity is to get the learners thinking. This is particularly useful near the start of a new course or section, when you want the learners to get their head around a new subject area. Make sure the question is easy enough for learners to quickly develop a list of their own. It wouldn’t work if they had nothing to type in!
These strategies are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the design possibilities of Articulate. For more tips and tricks you may be interested in our Certified Articulate Training Workshops.
To catch your learner Hook, Line and Sinker, perhaps the best advice is to put yourself in their shoes. Would you enjoy taking the course as a learner? It’s a simple question but it can make the difference between a humdrum eLearning course and a truly engaging eLearning experience.