eLearning is a great alternative to traditional learning, however when done badly, it's as bad as any long, tiring and mind numbing training. Here are a few key things to consider when you are choosing an eLearning provider or creating eLearning yourself:
Not everybody taking the course is going to be technology savvy or psychic, they won't necessarily know to press the cross to exit or that they need to drag and drop the shapes to reveal the information. The course needs to guide the learner through properly, making it the same level of direction that a tutor could give. Otherwise they are left frustrated, stuck and putting all of their energy into just getting through the course rather than concentrating on the actual content.
It's not just a pretty face you know!
It's important to remember to make eLearning look great and treat it like a work of art, however the practicalities of eLearning can't be overlooked in the process of making the course look amazing. It's crucial to focus on the content and making the course coherent more than making it look pretty. At the end of the day it's not being put in a gallery, it's trying to help people to learn. So make sure that the aesthetics are looking good but don't make this the priority.
Less is always more:
Sometimes we can be spoilt for choice both as eLearning designers and as somebody choosing the eLearning for their staff, Dazzled by the options like playful fonts and lots of imagery or just by thinking the more text on a slide will surely mean the more the learner,,, will learn. This can cause a whole body of inefficient, pointless and plain right ugly eLearning.
White space is your friend. Some courses are so full that you don't actually know what you are looking at. Don't fill every slide in your online learning with images, links and lots of text. Make sure that there is plenty of white space and everything has room to breath.
This leads onto the importance of getting the design right, Without contradicting the previous point about not making the design a priority, it is still a very significant factor. The correct type face, layout and colour schemes can make the world of difference. Make sure the courses are mature and that high quality, relevant images are used. Although the content is the most crucial element, you don't want awful and irrelevant images to distract the learner or garish bright text and font to make the content unreadable.
One screen rule:
Don't make one idea run over too many slides. It is important not to overly dilute a point. The one screen rule is quite self explanatory, make sure every slide conveys one idea. Short, snappy and in bite-size chunks, the psychology of this is that once the learner has taken in all of the information on that page, they move on. The reiteration of a point should be done in a test/ quiz or game like feature.
It's not a textbook!
With all of the above points in mind it is important to just remember that you are creating an engaging experience that needs to be interactive and applicable to the learner. Some of these points might be in danger of contradicting each other, but it is just about getting the balance right. Focus on the content, making sure it is high quality and relevant but don't let the design slide too much, less is more and a good layout, colour scheme and overall look and feel for the course is vital.
If your eLearning is not quite right, it is going to be ineffective leading to a waste of money, time and effort which nobody wants. Take some time and consider what you want out of it and you will find that this is one of the most powerful way to learn.