The Rapid Elearning Blog

Archive for November, 2021


wacky fonts in e-learning

One of my pet peeves is when courses use too many font types. Most of the time it comes from a lack of forethought about how and when to use certain fonts. Some people like to change up the fonts to make the course more visually interesting. This is a noble goal but perhaps not the best reason.

An interesting font will not make the course more interesting. And it’s possible that the font distracts from the content.

Be Intentional

Understand why you’re using the font you’re using.

The font not only displays the text to read, but it also conveys meaning about the type of content. A comic font may imply the content is lighter or part of a conversation. While a handwritten font may imply less formal or organic content.

Keep it simple.

I usually recommend limiting the course to two or three fonts, at the most. Often you can find a single font family that has enough variety to provide options but still maintain visual cohesion as in the example below. The font is Roboto, but there are multiple styles of that font family to offer variation that still allow the course to look professional.

font family for e-learning

What are you displaying?

Look at the image below. How many variations are there for the onscreen text? Title, subtitle, question header, and body text.

font styles for e-learning

When you create onscreen text, the text may represent everything from titles to perhaps a quick point of emphasis. They need to look different to show a distinction between the type of content. But how much is too much? Here are a few key text considerations:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Body font
  • Emphasis: this could be the body font bolded or recolored

You could use one font for all and just vary how it’s used. Or have one font for each. The key point is that you are deliberate and intentional about the text you place onscreen and how you want it to appear.

Understand what you need to display and why. Then be deliberate about the fonts used. Your courses will look more professional.

 

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.

 




Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - become e-learning pro

“I want to become an e-learning pro. What do I have to do to get better?”

This is one of the most common questions I’m asked. I’ve addressed it a few times in the blog by sharing some tips, free e-book recommendations, and a ton of tutorials. But it’s still a common question and worth reviewing from a slightly different perspective.

We’ll look at three key steps in the process of becoming an e-learning pro.

Become an E-learning Pro by Learning More

There are many ways to learn what you need to know to become an e-learning pro. Here are a few options:

  • Get a formal college degree. There are many good degree programs out there. Here’s a list of instructional design degrees started by someone in the community. There is some debate about whether or not you need an instructional design degree. I think a degree serves you two ways: some organizations won’t hire you without one and a degree program often exposes you to information and conversation you may not approach in the daily grind of course development.
  • Complete a certificate program. A lot of schools offer e-learning certification programs. You can see some in the list above. They cost less, take less time, and many of them offer a good blend of concepts with practical application.
  • Manage your informal learning. There are many ways to learn without getting a degree. Sites like Lynda.com offer formal structure with the freedom to mix and match what you want to learn. Or you can go the Youtube route and watch the hundreds of free videos and tutorials. On top of that, the e-learning community has all sorts of e-learning tutorials and content to help you get started. The only thing required is curiosity and the discipline to learn.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - become an e-learning pro e-learning books and instructional design degrees

Become an E-learning Pro by Applying What You Learn

Taking courses, reading books, and regularly reviewing content is great. And you’ll learn a lot. However, somewhere in the process has to be an active commitment to apply what you’re learning. If not, then eventually all of that good information just fades away.

Here are a few ideas to help you apply what you’re learning:

  • Create prototyping sessions. Many of the teams I’ve worked with regularly took time to play around with e-learning design ideas and then build quick proof-of-concept prototypes.  We’d commit one Friday a month where each person had to share one idea that we could apply to a course. Sometimes we worked on novel animations or new ways to navigate. Other times we’d discuss different ways to interact with the content. The point is that we set aside time to try new things. If you don’t do something similar, then you may get stuck building the same course over and over again.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - become an e-learning pro with weekly challenge

  • Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges. The weekly e-learning challenges are one of my favorite parts of the e-learning community. They’re designed to be simple practice activities where you can commit whatever time you want to them. Some people do more and some do less. I like seeing some of the novel ideas and how people approach the same challenge from different perspectives. For you, the challenge is a great way to prototype and practice. And if I managed a team, I’d regularly take up a challenge (maybe quarterly) and make it part of the team’s development. In either case, at least make it a point to see what people are doing; you’ll get all sorts of good ideas.

Become an E-learning Pro by Sharing What You Know

The two steps above are key for building your skills. This next one is all about connecting with others, building your reputation, and demonstrating your expertise.

  • Create a blog to share what you know. You don’t need to get into the SEO rat race trying to find all the right keywords, headlines, and all of that. Instead, see the blog as something a bit more personal. See it as a way to document what you know and what you’re learning. Ditch the generic content and focus on the practical application. That’s where people will see your expertise. I love the way some of the people who participate in the weekly challenges do write ups of what they did and why. Often they share free downloads. Here are links to a couple of them (with apologies to all those not mentioned): Jackie Van Nice and Joanna Kurpiewska.
  • Show your work. I’m going to let you in on an industry secret. There are a lot of people in our industry who write about e-learning but never show their work. When I ask them about it, they always have some lame excuse about proprietary courses. You’re telling me that in 20 years you’ve not created a single course you can show publicly? It’s a lot easier to be a critic on the sideline than it is to risk criticism for the work done. You can be a step ahead of many of our industry’s experts if you show what you’re doing. Just like the weekly challenges, they don’t need to be big productions. Show what you did and explain why you did it that way. To those just learning, YOU are the expert.

Articulate Rapid E-Learning Blog - present like an e-learning pro

  • Present at workshops and conferences. A great way to build your reputation is to present at industry conferences and workshops. If you want to gain some experience, then present at local chapters or special interest groups. In fact, I facilitate community e-learning workshops. Those are great opportunities to present since they’re informal and focused on practical tips and tricks.

Becoming an e-learning pro takes time. It’s a process of learning, applying, and sharing what you know. However, if you follow the steps above you’ll be on your way to success.

 

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.

 




Rapid E-Learning Blog - how long should e-learning course be

I’m often asked how long an e-learning course should be. My quick response is that it should last long enough to meet your objectives. On the surface that’s not a bad answer, but it’s usually one that doesn’t satisfy either. There are a few variables when it comes to determining how long an e-learning course should be.

However here are some tips that may help answer the question.

Chunk Your Content

The trend in online learning is small, digestible chunks. Some people call it YouTube learning or microlearning. I like to call them coursels (as in course morsels).

The trend makes sense. We’re using more and more mobile devices where quick hit training works better and chunked content is easier to process. By chunking the content, you also have a more agile production environment. The modules are easier to update and modify; and they’re easier to move around to create custom learning solutions.

Rapid E-Learning Blog - how long should e-learning course be using coursels

As far as course length, with chunking it may be determined by the learner and not content. Some people may only need one chunk to meet your learning objectives while others may need more.

Space the Learning Events

There’s a lot of evidence that suggests that spacing the learning events over time may improve learning outcomes. Some organizations create coursels that are introduced over time. The first coursels introduce the big picture concepts and then over time the learning is reinforced through various activities that require recall and application.

Rapid E-Learning Blog - how long should e-learning course be using spaced events

Years ago we built a training program where we had a few basic courses that highlighted the organization’s specific performance expectations. And then we scheduled a series of follow up challenges that required the learners to process various scenarios (using what they learned) and then discuss their solutions with their managers.

There’s also an effective way to space training over a shorter period of time in a single sitting. The main idea is to present the course content three times divided by ten-minute breaks. It may look like this: 1) the instructor presents content, 2) 10 minute break activity, 3) students recall content, 4) 10 minute break activity, and 5) students apply the content to demonstrate understanding of content.

I haven’t seen this approach applied to online learning, but I can see how this could work in a blended environment where live instruction blends with online content. In either case, chunking content and spacing out how it’s delivered changes our understanding of how long a course should be.

Be Learner Centric

One of the great advantages of e-learning is that it’s asynchronous which means it’s not confined by geography or time. That gives the learner the flexibility to take the course at a time most convenient to the learner.

Another advantage is that the learning is self-paced, which directly relates to the question of how long the course should be. An experienced person may learn a lot faster than the new person. Thus, length of time is irrelevant.

Rapid E-Learning Blog - how long should e-learning course be providing learner centric

Take advantage of what e-learning provides to create an environment that works best for the learner.

Here are a few tips:

    • Give them reasons to explore the course content.
    • Have them prove understanding as a measure of success.
    • Provide a lot of resources and guides to reinforce what they’re learning.

Slide Count is Irrelevant

Often when people ask about course length they also ask how many slides or screens the course should have. Some of this probably comes from the presentation mindset where each slide represents X minutes and if you have a 30 minute presentation you’re constrained to X slides.

However when it comes to e-learning, slide count is irrelevant. The learner looks at a screen, they don’t look at slides. You can put five pieces of information on a single slide or spread that same information over five slides. To the learner it makes no difference.

Essentially the screen shows content—mostly text and some sort of media like images and shapes. That content changes throughout the course. Does it matter if the content changes at the slide level with layers or by jumping to new slides? The end user only knows what’s displayed has changed. They don’t really care how you made it change.

It’s All About Meeting Your Learning Objectives

We all come to learning with different experiences and levels of understanding. Some people can pick up new content quickly while others may need more practice activities and feedback. E-learning is perfect for this approach because it’s flexible and can be tailored to learner needs and progress.

However, any course you build is only a solution to meet specific goals. We don’t build e-learning courses just to build courses. We build them to meet specific needs. Thus looking at the best length for a course is a bit misguided and focused in the wrong area. Ultimately we need to determine which intervention on our part helps the learner meet the learning expectations.

If the tips above don’t work for you, then the next best answer is “15 minutes.”

How do you determine course length?

 

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.