By: Karla Gutierrez

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February 5th, 2013

Improving the 4 Most Important Elements of Your eLearning Course

eLearning | eLearning tips

improve elearning coursesWhen an eLearning course is underperforming, there are a number of elements that could be going wrong, but the eLearning development team that designed it doesn't necessarily have to start from scratch. There are four areas that most commonly run into trouble, and revisiting the course and making improvements in these areas can significantly improve the performance of the course.

This post will help you improve those key areas of your course and start moving toward better eLearning.

Element #1: Visuals and Design

A surprising number of eLearning courses still exhibit clip-art from the 1990s, or offer shaky, low-quality video with poor sound. The visuals of a course will shape the users' impressions and attitudes when approaching it, and if the course looks cheap, outdated, or unprofessional, learners won't trust the quality of the content.

The design and layout of the course may also need improvement. During eLearning development, many designers try to make the screens more dynamic and interesting, but this can result in a cluttered and confusing appearance. Pages should be streamlined and anything that doesn't enhance the learner's experience with the content should be removed.

Element #2: Interactivity

People learn more readily when they are actively engaged with the content, rather than sitting back and passively absorbing it. It's harder to become distracted when an eLearning course is regularly asking for thoughtful input – which means something more than clicking "Next." When eLearning development incorporates real interaction and engagement into the design of a course, users will get more out of the content.

  • Giving users the opportunity to "try out" the material they have just learned with a game or simulation is an effective way to reinforce lessons.

  • Short quizzes or assessments force learners to pay attention and retain the material being taught.

  • By shifting the format of the content delivery from a linear progression to a series of branching avenues, the eLearning development team can create a course in which users must make choices which unlock new material in a manner that follows from their decisions.

Element #3: Content

Ultimately, an eLearning course is only as good as the content itself. Often, additional details and supplemental materials are added in during eLearning development, causing the content of the course to bloat unnecessarily. The content of an unsuccessful course should undergo a relevancy review; anything that is not necessary for the main learning goals of the course should be moved to sidebars or cut out entirely.

The order and progression of eLearning content is also important. Skills and concepts need to be introduced in a manner that proceeds logically and facilitates understanding, rather than in whatever order someone on the eLearning development team thought of them. Concepts must build on one another to create a strong foundation for learning, rather than being stacked haphazardly without regard for coherence. By going through the content sequentially and ensuring that one idea follows clearly from the next, developers can ensure that users will not be confused by the content.

Element #4: Navigation

After having established what content is necessary and the order in which it should most effectively be experienced, an eLearning development team may be tempted to ensure that the user's experience with the content proceeds exactly as they have deemed optimal by locking down the navigation controls and allowing a user's experience to proceed only in a linear fashion, hitting every point in order. This approach is sure to annoy and frustrate many users. By unlocking the navigation and letting users backtrack or skip ahead as they feel necessary, moving past screens of content they already understand or jumping to a particular chapter that they want to review, the eLearning development team can make the content more accessible and help users feel more engaged.

What other quick tricks do you have for instantly boosting eLearning quality? 

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About Karla Gutierrez

Karla is an Inbound Marketer @Aura Interactiva, the developers of SHIFT.

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