I get lots of questions from those who are just getting started with rapid elearning. They want to know what they can do to build good elearning. In today’s post I’d like to offer a few tips to those of you who have the same question with links to some books and previous posts.
1. You are where you are.
When I first pick up a video camera, I don’t expect to create Hollywood movies. The same goes for elearning. Accept where you are in your current skills. You won’t necessarily build world-class elearning the first time you build an elearning course. But you can build a decent and viable course. And if you want to get better, you can. It’s just a matter of learning, which entails practicing your craft.
Good books to get started:
2. Learn to use the tools.
It never fails that when I show people a few tricks in PowerPoint that they’ll say they never knew that was possible. If you don’t know what the tools can do, odds are that you’ll minimize what you can do with your courses.
The more you know about the tools you have the better you’ll be at building courses. Understanding the features and what they allow will open the door to all sorts of creative ideas and interactivity.
Learn more: If you’re an Articulate user, there are two good books and the user community with hundreds of tutorials and thousands of active members.
- Essential Articulate Studio ‘09
- E-Learning Uncovered: Articulate Studio ’09
- E-Learning Heroes Community: tutorials, PowerPoint templates, and free downloads
3. Click & read isn’t bad.
I hear so many complaints about boring click-and-read elearning. But the only ones I hearing complaining are those in the elearning industry. I don’t hear it from the learners. In fact, I routinely ask people I meet what types of elearning they take at work and what they think.
What they complain about isn’t that the course is linear or click-and-read. Instead, they complain about content that is irrelevant to what they do. So they’re not bored with the course structure; they’re bored with information that they don’t need.
4. Treat elearning like a textbook
Learning is a complex process. The elearning course isn’t the end-all to the person’s learning experience. It’s just part of it. Often we treat the course as if it’s the only way a person’s going to learn.
Think of your elearning course more like a text book. Some texts require that you read and reflect. And some are like workbooks. You get some information, apply it, and then see how you did.
In either case, elearning is just part of the process. You’ll have more success if you focus attention on performance support prior to and after the course is completed.
5. Make it meaningful.
Like I stated earlier, people complain about courses that are meaningless. The first step towards success is to create courses that are meaningful to the learners. Many times the courses we build are information dumps. Instead of an information dump, create situations where the learners have to use the information to make decisions relevant to what they’d do in the real world.
7. Get rid of stuff.
One of the best things you can do is take information out of the course content. Often we put too much information in the course, more than the learner needs. Focus on just the information you need to meet your goals. All of the other information can be pulled out and placed in addendums, reference links, or in downloadable job aids.
8. Focus on objectives.
Determine your learning objectives. Figure out what you need to do to meet them. Then figure out how you’ll assess that the objectives are met. Simple as that. Ideally your objectives are focused on action. What will they be able to do when they complete the course?
9. Develop a simple style guide.
I’m not in favor of style guide fascism where all course have to look the same. However, when you build a course, you should develop a style guide to go with the course. This will help you build a consistent design where you are intentional in colors, alignment, fonts, and overall look and feel.
Templates are great for this. They help with the general course structure and get you pointed in the right direction. You can create templates to guide the look and feel as well as templates that help guide the interactive components.
As you build skills, you’ll rely less on the templates. You’re better off with a basic course that is well designed than one that has every bell and whistle but doesn’t work well for the learner. Plus if you’re just getting started, a more elaborate course will take more time to build.
10. Apply sound graphic design.
People are drawn to things that look good. So you can start engaging them by creating a course that has the right aesthetic appeal. Will a nice looking course be enough? No. But it’s a start.
Graphic design is also about directing the flow of information and how the eye scans the screen. This contributes to the successful transmission of the content. In addition, it’s important to have the right contextual design. Ideally you’re able to craft a visual context that matches the course content.
These tips and resources should help point you in the right direction. Build your first course and then do a post assessment when you’re done. Reflect on what went well and where you could make improvements. Then the next time you build a course, work on those areas. And in no time at all you’ll be a rapid elearning pro.
Upcoming E-Learning Events
- We'll be adding events for 2017 soon. If you'd like to see one of our workshops in your area just let me know.
- Mar 20 (Orlando). Want to learn to build courses with the right look & feel? Join David Anderson at his all day workshop on Graphic Design Essentials for Non-Graphic eLearning Designers.
- Mar 22-23 (Orlando). Come by the booth at Learning Solutions and say hello.
- April 13 (Minneapolis). Variables Made Easy with Articulate Storyline. Limited seats, so sign up now.
- April 13 (Minneapolis). Articulate User Meet Up. Details coming soon.
- April 14 (Minneapolis). PACT Meeting: Facing Today's Instructional Design Challenges.
Free E-Learning Resources
Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.
Here’s a great job board for elearning, instructional design, and training jobs
Participate in the weekly elearning challenges to sharpen your skills
Lots of cool elearning examples to check out and find inspiration.