I recently spoke at an eLearning forum on eLearning design trends which made me reflect on where I’m currently at with my elearning design and how I can create more meaningful elearning experiences for the people who take my courses.
Visualise the Story
One of the themes of the forum was about visualising data. I’m a big fan of using scenarios and stories in my work and this year I’m going to make a concerted effort to improve the visualisation of these stories. I think we can learn a lot from infographics and how they can turn static information into visually compelling learning experiences. We have to be careful with visualising out information. It’s crucial not to let the images, graphs or diagrams get too complex otherwise it becomes all about the design and the message or story may be lost.
Gamify Your Content
I’m currently reading ‘The Gamification of Learning and Instruction’ written by Karl Kapp. Firstly, thank you Karl! This book is really making me rethink how I create online content. We are living in an age where a vast majority of our learners will have played some form of online games or commercial games so we need to look at how to get this audience to buy-in to our online content.
Gamification is not about building World of Warcraft to replace your security awareness training but instead ‘taking principles that make games addictive and applying them in a learning context to improve retention and recollection of knowledge and better application and practice of skills’ (Kapp 2012). Building courses that use game mechanics can take time and will take longer to build than your basic one hour of ‘text and next’ but the cleverly designed course using the principles of gamification will ensure a far richer learning experience.
Personalise the Learning Experience
In the past I looked at personalising our online content by using a conversational, informal language in our text e.g. I, we, you etc. You may have also looked at avatars or help characters that guide users through the content. I think back to my days as a primary school teacher and how I used differentiation in my pedagogy to cater for the individual needs of the student. I’m really keen about trying to incorporate this more into my online courses.
With the advances in authoring tools such as Articulate Storyline I think we now have the technology to do this easily and make it more personalised and ultimately more meaningful. Using variables in Storyline can help achieve this by branching content specific to different groups of learners e.g. by job role, location or level. It will make the content more meaningful. It will also take a little longer to build but I believe it’s worth the investment.
Variables are a way to remember information—such as a learner’s name or numeric input—and then present dynamic content based on that information.
Finally, I believe all three of these elearning design goals are interconnected. If I apply gamification, I will need to visualise the story of the game and by using gamification I’m really personalising the learning experience by achieving results based on the individual’s choices and actions.
Let the visualisation, gamification and personalisation begin!