No matter how good we get at something, there will always be times when we either get lazy or stuck in a rut. This is certainly true with talented eLearning designers who can fall into a pattern of using the same old techniques in their courses. It is a good idea, from time-to-time, to stop and ask yourself whether you are falling into this trap. This simple act, can help you continuously make improvements to your eLearning courses.
Improvements do not have to be difficult or time consuming to implement. In many cases, small, simple changes can make a big difference. For example, there are three simple things you can do to improve your eLearning courses.
Use Graphics and Put the Text in the Audio Script
One important and simple thing you can do to improve your eLearning courses is to replace most or all of the text on your slides with a graphic and put the text in the audio recording. I know this seems like a drastic measure, but it will improve how your audience learns. If you have read Ruth Clark's book, eLearning and the Science of Instruction, you will remember the many sources she cites about overloading learners by making them read text, look at a graphic, and listen to audio at the same time.
It is too much.
By removing the text from the slide, you impose one less task that your audience needs to process. It is more effective to narrate a graphic or a table than it is to also ask people to read text at the same time.
Let People Know How Long
One frustrating aspect of taking an eLearning course is not knowing how long it will take to complete. If you set expectations up front, your audience can plan for the time it will take, increasing the chance people will complete your eLearning course.
Use Quizzes as Learning Tool
One big mistake eLearning designers make is under-using quizzes. It is easy to create a few multiple choice quiz questions at the end of each section of content as a means of testing knowledge.
It is easy, and it is boring.
You can improve your eLearning courses by using quizzes as a learning experience rather than just testing knowledge. For example, in a traditional eLearning course, a learner views or listens to slides that present a concept, then take a quiz. Why not begin a section with a non-graded drag-and-drop exercise to present a concept or an ordering assessment to present a process. Exercises like this can be set in Mindflash to allow for multiple attempts giving your audience a chance to make mistakes until they figure it out. No one said quizzes have to come at the end of a section.
Stop and Ask Yourself, "How Can I Improve This?"
There is always room for improvement in just about anything we do. A good eLearning designer is always looking for ways to improve courses, and even the great ones can fall into a rut. It is valuable to take a step back and ask yourself, "How can I make this course a little better than the last one?"
What do you do to improve your eLearning courses? What has been a successful improvement you have made, and how did it improve your eLearning course? Share your stories in the comments below.
Bill Cushard, author, blogger, and learning experience (LX) designer, is a human performance technologist (HPT) with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations in start-up and hyper-growth organizations like E*TRADE, the Knowland Group, and Accenture. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+.