eLearning is a quickly evolving medium that can change drastically before you know it, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t rules you can and should stick to! When creating online learning material, there are some grave mistakes easily made that can negatively impact the learners’ experience. In this post, we’ll examine the seven deadly sins that should be avoided at all costs. These double as tips for improving your material.
The “Paste” Job
An advantage of digital learning is that it can cut out the need for physical books and even clunky PDF files at times. However, you need to avoid the temptation to take existing material, such as older documents or slide presentations, and slot them into an eLearning format without considering how this can impact learner engagement. A good eLearning course should stimulate the mind via interactivity and user agency rather than forcing learners to sit through hours of non-specialized material at a pre-determined pace. Especially if that material was designed for a totally different context of delivery.
Narration is an important feature to offer in your courses. After all, it could help the material be accessible to those with hearing disabilities, for example. However, narration should never be forced on the user. Odds are that students will read at a different pace than the narrator, creating unnecessary frustration. Making this feature optional is key. There are also other options for adding audio to courses; learn more in our post about enhancing eLearning through audio.
Your course doesn’t need to be completely freeform; a considered, guided approach is hugely beneficial. However, in cases where the student can work at their own pace, they should be allowed the freedom to navigate the material as they please. Nothing is worse than clicking a NEXT button repeatedly for what feels like forever.
Talk to Me
No one wants to be stuck in a class where it feels like they are being talked at rather than talked to. Courses should avoid feeling like static lectures by incorporating elements of interactivity and communication. It’s worth noting that a vast majority of eLearning audiences are adults, making them even less likely to be receptive to a course that forces information on them without much consideration. Tell stories, engage your learners, and speak to them on their level.
Investing in an aesthetically pleasing course is by no means a fruitless endeavour, but don’t let that get in the way of its functionality. Visual cues and instructions should aim to be universally observable, not just to those who are skilled with technology and have an eye for graphic design. Remember, everything you include should have the user experience in mind.
Break it Down
Offering users a wealth of content all at once is not always the generous gift it may seem. Our energy and motivation will ebb and flow naturally. Building your course in more digestible modules can greatly increase learners’ engagement, as well as their chances of retaining and applying the information.
Make it Stop
This last one might be obvious, but it can make or break an eLearning course all by itself. If you’re implementing video or audio into your lessons, there should always be a pause function. Having to miss parts of a lesson or activity due to an unforeseen distraction or technical difficulty is an immediate source of frustration and disconnection for the student.
Focusing on your user and avoiding these seven deadly sins will lead you and the learner to far better outcomes!