SHIFT's eLearning Blog

A Look at Why Good Design Is Absolutely Critical for eLearning Success

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Apr 16, 2015 @ 12:06 PM


eLearning comprises of two kinds of designs – instructional design and graphic design. When we as commoners think about design, all we think of is superficial things. But design is more than just aesthetics. It involves emotional connect. It involves creating solutions that help in improving the lives of people.

Garr Reynolds rightly said that design changes things either in a profound or subtle manner. And good design almost always impacts the lives of people, irrespective of how subtle the changes may be.

Everyone concludes that design makes a great difference and that is quite obvious. But is there any living evidence that actually proves this claim? Yes, there are plenty of them.

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Stop Blah, Blah eLearning! 5 Rules for Creating Relevant and Fluff-free Courses

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 @ 11:48 AM


We, instructional designers, know the feeling. We take copious notes when we interview the SME, and when we return to our desks, we are at a loss wondering what information to include in the course and what to toss out. Most of us end up squeezing into the course almost everything the SME had said. At other times, we read through the raw content, fall in love with a piece of data that is new to us and seems exciting, and cram it in the course. The result is an information-heavy eLearning course that overwhelms the learner but does not benefit him or elicit the response from him that you had desired. Information overload is a common pitfall that eLearning designers should be wary of. 

Your goal should be to create a course that packs in only that much information that fulfills the learning outcomes. Relevance increases learner engagement. Besides, your adult learners are busy people; you cannot expect them to sit through a course as you ramble on. 

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Topics: eLearning tips, writing for eLearning

7 Techniques for Reducing Wordiness in Your eLearning Courses

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Apr 09, 2015 @ 12:15 PM


Wordiness is, without a doubt, one of the biggest enemies of eLearning. Overly wordy content makes it difficult for learners to concentrate. Having more material to consume makes it complicated for them to judge, analyze and make sense of what they are reading. Indeed, studies prove that lessons with the fewer words results in more learning.

But what exactly is wordiness? By simple definition, wordiness is defined as a way of telling something with more words than necessary. 

A common mistake done by eLearning course creators is the tendency to over-explain everything. If you are one of these people, your intentions are commendable; however, your end result will be that you will bore your learners to death.  

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Topics: writing for eLearning

Improve Learner Engagement by Using Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Apr 07, 2015 @ 12:21 PM


What do you remember more vividly? The steps of installing a piece of new software on your computer or the episodes from your favorite TV drama?

Human beings are more swayed by emotions than by a bunch of hard facts and cold statistics. Our favorite stories keep us hooked because they tug at our heart strings. We remember scenes from our favorite movies because as a rule, human beings remember emotionally-charged events better than the ones that just aim to appeal to our sense of logic.

Understanding the science of emotions is the key to influencing learners' thoughts and actions. As an instructional designer, you need to wrap your wits around this science to create courses that resonate with your audience and stir their emotions.

Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions holds the clues.

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Topics: eLearning tips

3 Ideas to Give Your Next eLearning Course Visual Oomph

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Apr 02, 2015 @ 10:37 AM


What do you think is the first thing people would remember about your eLearning course’s screen, if suddenly asked?

It should be no wonder that what they will put design on top of the list. But why does this happen?

Although you may think that the information provided is much more important than the design, people are visual creatures, and they easily associate memories with colors, texture and images. If you want your eLearning course to create a long lasting impression, do not neglect the importance of an impactful design.

Test one or all of these ideas to keep your eLearning courses looking fresh, engaging, and innovative.

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Topics: eLearning design

Use This Guide to Keep Tone Consistent Throughout the Course

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Mar 31, 2015 @ 12:20 PM


In an earlier post, you got the low-down on how to find the right tone for an eLearning course. But writing in the tone that resonates with your audience is not just about doing one thing right. It starts from understanding your learners to identifying the language and the emotions that appeal to them.  The tone you choose will inform all of your written copy, including instructions, feedback messages, scenarios and stories. You have to not only be authentic but also maintain a consistent tone throughout the course. For this, you need a guide, a checklist of sorts, that will help you be on track. Call it the Tone of Voice Guide.

This guide will set the ground rules for how you should write in your eLearning course, keeping every screen and learning activity consistent from start to finish.

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Topics: writing for eLearning

Strike the Right Tone for Maximum Impact in eLearning

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 @ 12:28 PM


Do you talk to your audience or talk down to them? What does your eLearning courses read like? Like a text book that makes your audience doze off or an interesting story that they can't wait to read through? Do you come across as friendly, knowledgeable, and convincing in your courses or is there something about the way you talk that puts your audience off?

The tone you adopt for an eLearning course isn't about what you say but HOW you say it and the effect it has on your learners. Learners may not see their instructors face-to-face but that doesn’t mean they won’t notice your approach. On the contrary, words have to work harder than ever if you don't want to lose your learners. In eLearning, text and audio are the only way to show emotions, personality, and training intentions. Besides, man is a social animal, and he likes to talk to other human beings. An advertisement from a "brand" or a list of instructions from a "business" is not as convincing as an endorsement from a friend or advice from someone trusted. The courses you create should read or sound like the kind and wise words from some such friendly and knowledgeable person who wants to help the audience. You should write in a human tone.

Need some inspiration? Check out these articles:

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Topics: writing for eLearning

Are You Writing Rockin’ Course Objectives? 7 Do’s and Don’ts

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 @ 12:12 PM


What do you want your learners to think or care about? What do you expect them to accomplish? Can you answer these questions? You should! They'll help you define clear and sound course objetives without wasting time and energy. 

However, a bunch of phrases that are put together and doesn’t clearly relate what the learners should be able to achieve at the end of the course is of no use. The objectives need to be written in a way that the learners can relate to their need for taking the training and visualize the end result or the learning outcome.

Before writing objectives, you always have to think from the learner’s perspective. You should step into their shoes to understand their needs and aspirations. Also consider the demands of their jobs, so you know exactly what skills they need to excel in their professional duties.

Being an integral part of the instructional design process, you can't deny the importance of knowing how to write rockin' course objectives

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WANTED: Creative Instructional Designers. Are You One?

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 @ 12:14 PM


If you scour Craigslist and LinkedIn regularly, you will often come across this ad:

Creative instructional designers wanted.

Requirements:

  • Strong writing and storyboarding skills
  • Ability to write engagingly for many different audiences
  • Ability to convert "raw content" into crisp eLearning scripts
  • Ability to explain complex concepts lucidly
  • Ability to bring alive dull technical topics
  • Excellent grammar, spelling and formatting
  • Desire to improve skills by attending eLearning Webinars and joining Instructional Design groups

Phew!

It is evident that companies are on the lookout for instructional designers who can do more than just put together a bullet list of tips. They want people who can create evocative prose that touches the audience's hearts, appeals to their logic, and rouses them to action. They want creative writers and out-of-the-box thinkers.

Especially, companies are looking for good writing skills. The ability to write well, they say, reflects the ability to think well. 

Your learners are crunched for time and have short attention spans. You have to create scenarios that are as riveting as a whodunit, dialogs that sound natural, and characters that seem as real as the average man on the street. However, you have to also ensure your script delivers the learning lucidly.

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Topics: writing for eLearning

How To Find Design Inspiration for eLearning

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 @ 12:37 PM


As an eLearning designer, you are expected to create courses that are quirky and engaging besides being informative. Normally, this wouldn't be a tall order for a creative individual like you. But what bugs you is that inspiration doesn't strike you on all days. What is even more nerve-wracking is that you are expected to create wow courses from dull and drab content—systems application training, HR policies, health and safety measures, and the like. These are critical knowledge, and you have to ensure the learners remain hooked to your course.

If your creative muse is not around, here are some tips to help you find inspiration.

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Topics: eLearning inspiration

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