Let’s be honest: creating e-learning can be a bummer, especially when you’re already buried under other work or content authoring isn’t your primary job duty. Before pulling your hair out and declaring there isn’t a god, try these 5 tips to quickly create better e-Learning while avoiding preventable revisions.
1. Get Buy-in from All Stakeholders
If time isn’t on your side then you’re probably tempted to open your authoring program and start designing immediately. Unfortunately, this can end up costing you more time in the long run if there are other people invested in the outcome of the course.
Stakeholders that can’t voice their opinions at the beginning of the project will instead be voicing them once you’ve finished, and often those revisions will be more time-consuming during later stages. Consider this slightly hyperbolic example:
Stakeholder: “This 7-slide analogy where you demonstrate how the company is like an umbrella on a rainy day… this has to go since our main competitor has already be identified with umbrellas. They’ve got the umbrella market cornered! Also, I hate this color purple on every slide; I think I’m allergic to it and it makes my teeth feel itchy. Change it to something else. How about blue? People like blue!”
You: “I should have paid more attention in school”.
Avoid this career-contemplating interaction by having a kickoff meeting and getting everyone’s buy-in on your course plan, look and feel, photos and icons prior to creating the course. You can even have a ‘speak-now-or-hold-your-peace’ date to make sure everyone understands they have a deadline to submit opinions.
2. Utilize Free Course Templates and Assets
Color-blind? Bad at design? Even if you can’t pair fonts to save your life, you can still create good-looking courses without tricking your niece in design school into a ‘real-world-work-experience’.
Whatever your authoring tool, there are many resources available that provide free course templates, icons, photos and other stuff you can use to jump-start the creation process, enabling you to forget about design decisions and focus entirely on content.
3. Break Up Your Content
No one wants to sit through an hour long course, despite how pretty it might look. Long courses have a tendency to be less effective when compared to short courses (<15min), largely due to the reduction in our overall attention span (I personally checked my email about 37 times while writing this). Add some locked navigation and less than enthusiastic narration, and you have a recipe for a nap.
Instead, find the strongest points or topics in your course and break them up into their own courses. This will make your content much more digestible and lead to better knowledge retention and recall. Your users will thank you when they stop waking up with their keyboards imprinted into their faces.
4. Provide Clear Instructions
Interactivity and gamification are all the rage lately and with good reason; they can be very effective methods of keeping users engaged with your course. However, it’s easy to forget that those users might not understand how all your interactions work since they had no part in their creation.
Providing clear and concise instructions can seriously reduce the frustration people experience while going through your content. For instance, consider adding an instruction slide after the title screen which is also available from the course menu for easy reference at any point in the course.
On a side note, though it can be tempting to fill your course with a variety of interactive bits, you’re better off using no more than 3 different types of interactions. After all, do you want your users spending more time learning about your content, or how to use your course?
5. Allow Time for Testing
You’ve watched the course 20 times, proofread your slides, you’re all set right? Probably not. As the author, you have intimate knowledge of your course and therefore you’re at a disadvantage when it comes to viewing your content objectively. Ever spent hours working closely on a project, taken a break, come back and immediately found errors? The concept of ‘being too close’ applies similarly to content creation.
Having a fresh perspective of a disinterested third party on your content can mean the difference between a coherent course and a confusing dud.
Putting it all Together
Even though course authoring isn’t always a party, employing these strategies will allow for the quick creation of better e-learning:
Get Stakeholder buy-in
Use free stuff
Break it up
Make it clear
Test it out
Still too pressed for time? Why not hire a professional?