Having them 'Light Bulb' Moments
Creativity and having them 'light bulb' moments in eLearning is a pivotal point if you want it to be successful however this can be quite a challenge when the content is serious and dull. When creating eLearning it is so much more than just knowing how to work the mechanics of the software, it is about translating an idea in a way that will help the learner digest the information.
When doing anything creative it is extremely hard to just 'come up' with ideas on the spot, this way of working adds so much extra pressure and usually backfires into a huge brain block. It is important to get inspired, much like a writer might need to read more or an artist might need to visit a gallery, eLearning developers should spend some time looking at other courses, reading forums and simply generating ideas. They might not all be perfect on the first attempt but by using idea generating as an activity chances are you will have that light bulb moment. It is also a good idea to save any ideas that you have seen and liked over time, there's no harm in finding inspiration in other peoples light bulb moments, chances are your own moments might produce that much needed inspiration for a fellow designer and with such great online forums, templates, examples etc, we really should embrace what a lovely community the eLearning industry is.
Put some time aside to have a play around with any ideas you might have. It doesn't have to be a response to a live brief, it could just be you re-creating some ideas you might have seen, or deconstructing other courses to see how they work. This is so important to advance your set of skills, the more skills you have under your belt, the more adventurous you can be with your courses. Keeping up to date with trends, technologies and learning new tricks is what will keep your eLearning fresh and exciting. So make sure you jiggle with your timetable and give yourself a few hours to just play around, don't be precious about the design or appearance either, that can come later, this process is purely about trying to hit a few light bulb moments and the best chance of getting that is to actually do rather than just think.
Take the Role of the Learner
Knowing the audience for your service is vital in any profession. It's no use sitting behind a dissected course and expecting to get it right for your learner. You need to be the learner. Take some time to sign up to courses and see what makes you feel engaged. Not only will this give you ideas for your own courses but it will also help you to see what works and what doesn't. Are the click and reveals effective or just tedious? Is the flying bullet points engaging or distracting? As obvious as it sounds, sometimes being in the background can make you loose sight of what is actually working and what isn't. It also might encourage you to be critical of the other courses you are taking; OK, so that doesn't work, but this might have...' Open your eyes to the world you work so closely with by joining them and finding out what it's like to be fed eLearning courses.
It is also always really helpful and inspiring to get feedback from learners that have taken your course. Let them stay anonymous if you want really constructive feedback. There's nothing more helpful than feedback both good and bad!
eLearning prides itself on being fresh and engaging, it has changed the way we learn as a culture and opened our eyes to new ways of making our brains tick. But with this amazing new concept comes a lot of added pressure for the designers and developers. It is crucial to take time and invest in yourself to become the best designer or developer you can be. Don't let your eLearning go stale. Keep encouraging them light bulb moments, they are precious!