There is no doubt that eLearning designers need strong problem-solving skills. In the early stages of any design project, we need to wear our analytical hats and work out how to transform training content into an engaging learning experience.
When faced with 100 slides of content from a client, it can be a daunting task to organise the material and then build an eLearning course. Then again, some of us just love a challenge!
Here are three design challenges that I have faced and the steps I took to meet the challenge.
Condense large amounts of learning content provided by the client.
Recently I had a client provide material that included 6 PowerPoint slides covering all the legislation that learners needed to know. If I just added a few images and kept the content on 6 different screens, imagine how the learner’s eyes would soon glaze over reading screen after screen of legislation. My challenge was to present the material in a succinct way and to keep the learner’s attention.
Using Articulate Storyline, I condensed all the content into one interactive screen with tabs to reveal a layer for each piece of legislation. The result is an interaction that is far less daunting for the learner (one screen of legislation looks better than six!). In addition, learners are more likely to get involved by clicking on the various elements on the screen. If the client insists that the learner reads every item on the screen, you can set the interaction so that she or he has to view each item before progressing to the next screen.
Create consistency in the eLearning course without making it dull.
As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life. But when it comes to eLearning course design, too much variety is confusing for the learner. Imagine an online course with 10 different fonts, 10 different characters, 10 types of animation and every colour of the rainbow. How would this affect the learning experience? Most likely it would confuse the learner as the course would appear disjointed and hard to follow.
The best practice is to design with consistency in mind. Here are some ways to create a cohesive course:
- 1 or 2 fonts only – We like to use one font for the screen titles and another for the body text.
- Templates – Player templates and slide masters create a cohesive look and feel (while saving you time).
- Colour scheme – Stick to 2 or 3 key colours for elements on the screen.
- Activity boxes – Keep the same colour and format for special activity boxes in the course.
- Symbols – This is a good way to provide recognisable markers for learners (e.g. a question mark icon to indicate a discussion question).
- Main character – Introduce your character at the start and bring them in throughout the course, but not every screen.
Encourage the learner to stop and take a closer look.
Adult learners are usually time-poor and so they might be tempted to rush through an eLearning course. The challenge for the designer is to create courses that encourage learners to slow down, interact with the material and to think more carefully. There are many ways to do this—case studies, scenarios, quizzes, activities. The key is to draw the learner into the course through interaction.
Let’s say the learning material includes a flow chart. You could just copy and paste the flow chart onto the screen. Using this approach, some learners would stop and read through the flow chart; but many would just skip the screen because there is nothing to draw them in. The challenge here is to create an interactive screen. Again using Articulate Storyline the learner can click on each of the flow chart elements to read about that stage of the process. This is a great way to encourage the learner to take a closer look and digest the information at a deeper level.
If you are ever stuck with a design problem and need help or inspiration, I encourage you to go the E-Learning Heroes website. The E-Learning Heroes community has over 700,000 eLearning professionals who exchange ideas, solve problems, share resources and inspire each other.
If you are not already part of the community, it is easy to join up and find the help and inspiration you need. For a more formal training approach you could also try B Online Learning’s eLearning Design Essentials Course or our Certified Articulate Training.