It's easy to get stuck in a design rut whenever there's too much to do and not enough time to do it. Re-using and re-purposing design elements that have served you well in the past is one great way to enhance your efficiency, but over time, it can lead to a course library that lacks visual identity or personality.
When your 20th course starts to look and feel like a carbon copy of your first course, it may be time to stop what you're doing and apply George Costanza's "do the opposite" theory. Check out this clip for a quick refresher.
Instead of: Full color graphic treatments
Try: Black-and-white graphic treatments
These two images are very similar, but notice how the black-and-white treatment draws your attention and connects you to the message much more effectively than the first? Using contrast can be a powerful way to add emphasis to your slides. For more ideas on using emphasis in your training, check out these ideas from the Mindflash archive.
Instead of: Post-course quizzes
Try: Pre-course knowledge check exercises
You're familiar with the sequence: go through the training content and then take a quiz. How about switching things up by putting the quiz at the beginning of the course? Pre-training knowledge check exercises or learning quizzes pique trainee interest, and help to identify knowledge gaps, which can in turn motivate trainees to pay closer attention to the content. Check out how this tax quiz uses frequently asked questions right off the gate as a way to teach learners about deductible and non-deductible tax items.
Instead of: Designing in isolation
Try: Workin' your PLN
So many of us are one person training departments, responsible for analyzing needs, and designing, developing and delivering training solutions. Without peers around to guide you, challenge you or endorse your design ideas, you may find yourself existing in a state of creative isolation. Don't live in a vacuum! Instead, try tapping into online communities for professional guidance, informal mentoring, and creative inspiration. Need a second opinion on your new PowerPoint slide designs? Post a link to your slides along with a quick poll and take a vote. Need help writing quiz questions? Tap your community for design assistance from an experienced quiz-writing expert.
Not sure where to start? Linkedin has numerous community groups devoted to training. To see which groups work best for you, visit linkedin.com (sign up for an account if necessary), select "groups" from the search bar drop down and enter the search terms of your choice in the text field - e.g. elearning, training, learning and development, etc.
I find Twitter to be an invaluable tool for connecting with fellow training geeks - and I'm not the only one. Check out this month's issue of Learning Solutions magazine, specifically the Nuts & Bolts article by Jane Bozarth in which she discusses using social media tools, like Twitter, to build a personal learning network (PLN). Jane recounts a great little story about skipping a Google search and heading straight to her PLN on Twitter to get a training-specific solution. So cool!
Still feeling like you're stuck in a design rut? Let the Mindflash community help and leave us a comment.
Trina is a learning and communications consultant with thirteen years experience designing, developing, and delivering smart, engaging training. When her skills aren't being tested by her children, you'll find her helping others to develop their own training design muscles.