Effective eLearning courses don't happen by magic. They come out of purposeful, thoughtful and learner-focused design. You can create those kinds of courses by following these eight simple and effective rules to instantly improve your eLearning courses.
1) Set a Learning Target
Learning targets explicitly state what a learner should know or be able to do by the end of a course and how learners can demonstrate their learning. Setting a target and a goal achieves two critical goals. First, learners will know why the course is important and how it will help them in the future. Secondly, targets help keep course content focused.
2) One Screen, One Concept
Some eLearning course screens look like a jumble of ideas and concepts because the course designer mistakenly presumes fancy design leads to more effective eLearning. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Each screen in a course should convey one idea, and one idea only. This Rule of 1 keeps your learner focused on the most important ideas, one at time.
3) Set Time Limits, Not Slide Limits
Or in other words, quality over quantity. The total number of slides in a course doesn't equate to effectiveness if those slides don't contain quality material. Design a course with a time frame instead of a slide quota. Slides without a purpose will cause learners to disengage. Setting a time limit forces people to get to the point and remain focused on the learning targets.
4) Use Visuals Instead of Text
Transform complicated and dense text into a visual representation of the information. For example, if the text explains a process, could you show the process visually instead with a flow chart, video or infographic? Visuals stimulate thinking and help solidify concepts lost within large blocks of text.
5) Check your charts
Charts present a lot of complex information in a digestible form and can bring in a visual element a course may need. But beware. Charts often become too complex with too many data points requiring extensive study that can leave a learner confused. A great chart will require less than a minute for a learner to understand. Before including a chart, consider:
The best form of chart to display the information such as bar graphs, pie charts or line charts;
How many data sets the information requires;
And whether to split complex data into multiple charts.
6) Rethink Bullet Points
Bullet points don't have to look dull. Change them up visually to better represent a concept and lead learners deeper into content. For example, make each bullet point a clickable button within a graphic leading to a slide within a slide. This can help connect concepts in new, more interesting ways for learners.
7) Apply Basic Design Principles
Course designers don't need a degree in graphic design to follow some basic design principles, especially those principles with proven track records at creating more effective eLearning. Using the 10 basic design elements including an attention to white space, consistency and reducing on-screen clutter can make a world of difference in a course. A few tweaks based on these principles will instantly improve the visual impact of your course.
8) Involve the Learner
Learning is an active pursuit. Ineffective eLearning courses let the learner sit passively, almost encouraging the learner to check out. Provide a learning experience that promotes openness, thought and discussion. Some ways to engage learners actively include:
Active buttons in the course to poll learners on their understanding;
Student discussion in blogs or communities;
Or email to extend the learning past the course parameters.
One final tip. Effective eLearning comes when you think like a learner, understand a learner's needs and tailor courses for that learner. These eight rules can help you achieve that goal.