The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for January, 2020


e-learning template

E-learning templates can be a bit challenging. On one hand, they speed up production. And then on the other they may introduce constraints in the learning experience design.

An e-learning course screen has a specific structure. It’s usually rectangular and contains text and imagery. The text and imagery are laid out on the screen and is constrained by up, down, left and right placement. Of course, the possibilities for layouts can be endless, but there are probably just a few dozen layouts that make sense for e-learning courses.

Here are a couple of recent posts where we discussed the anatomy of e-learning templates and how to get the most value out of templates.

E-learning Template Value

Templates work for repetitive processes because they can be used over and over again. For example, most courses have some sort of simple list of learning objectives. While the course content may change, those course screens are usually consistent.

E-learning Template Constraints

Courses consist of content that is contextual. And from a learning experience, that contextual content has specific teaching requirements. For example, if I teach how to use software, then the screens are dependent on screenshots. And if I teach how to interact with a customer, the visual context is best represented in a manner similar to how you may interact with the customer.

I may find some good general layouts for simple content, but as soon as I have to work with specific content, I find that there’s a lot of tweaking and adjustments made to the templates that may mean I save more time just starting from scratch.

E-Learning Template Hybrids

I like to separate my templates into three parts and find the most value in using templates in the first and third.

  • Entering the course
  • Course content
  • Exiting the course

Most courses have the same or similar starting points with welcome screens, instructions, objectives, sections, etc. And they also have similar exit points such as summary screens, next steps, and exit instructions.

Those two parts, the entering and exiting of courses, are perfect for templates. The templates are easy to insert, update, and contextualize. The middle part that deals with the actual course content is different.

Course content templates are great for simple text layouts. They break down as the content design becomes more specific. That’s fine, just use templates for the beginning and end and for simple text. But don’t waste time trying to force content into a template. Or worse, don’t create a template and force the course authors to make the content comply with a template.

Templates are great for e-learning. However, they exist to save time. Keeping templates for easy-to-repeat screens makes sense. Forcing content to fit templates probably doesn’t. But that’s OK. Just use the template screens where you need them and start with blank screens where they need customization. Don’t waste time fitting a square peg into a round hole.

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

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 e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 




unlock navigation

“We have to lock the course. If we don’t, the people will just skip all of the content until they get to the end.”

If you build e-learning courses, you probably hear this all the time. But here’s why you need to unlock your course.

Being Exposed to Information Isn’t the Same as Learning

Just because people are forced into the content doesn’t mean they’re learning from it. Reading, seeing, or hearing information is just a small part of the learning experience.

Locking the course navigation can only measure a person’s access to the content. It can’t measure their attention span or their understanding of the content.

People See the Content Based on Previous Experience

Experience and bias cloud our understanding of what we learn. A new learner may struggle to figure out what goes where and when. And a more experience learner is plugging information into predefined boxes and categories.

Locking course navigation assumes everyone approaches the content the same way and at the same speed. A new person may need more time, whereas a more tenured person can quickly skim and move on. Trying to control the navigation creates a frustrating experience.

Some People Need Context

Personally before I learn something new, I like to gain a big picture understanding. For example, if I get a new resource book, I skim in, look over the chapters, check out illustrations, and perhaps glance in the back and references. This helps me get a sense of what’s in there and where things will go.

I like the same when I take online training. I want to build some context which helps me know how everything fits together. It throws me off, if I am forced to go through the content A to Z with no ability to jump around and peek a bit.

Odds are you have a lot of learners who feel the same way. Some want to review everything. Some need a lot of information. Some want to touch and play around a bit.

Open the course up and let those who want to jump to activities to go there and vice versa.

Focus on Understanding

The ultimate objective is that the person learns. The key is getting them to demonstrate their level of understanding. Instead of focusing on screen after screen of content and locking the navigation, create the locks around activities where they can demonstrate their understanding.

For example, let them skip reading company policies. Instead, have them apply the policy to a relevant situation. You can lock the course at that point. They need to complete X activity to demonstrate that they understand the policy. Give them freedom to move around to learn and collect what they need. But lock the course based on the activity that measures their understanding.

Upcoming E-Learning Events

  • October 6: Amsterdam. 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges by David Anderson. Register here.
  • October 21: Sydney. 3-Hour Articulate Virtual Event: 10 Production Tips from the E-Learning Challenges, Creating Engaging Software Training in Rise 360, and more. Register here.
  • October 29: ATD Nashville. Here's Why You Need an E-Learning Portfolio.

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 e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.