Langevin Blog

10 Instructional Design Tips for Simplifying Online Learning

January 28th, 2013

Web-Based Training Instructional DesignThe CEO of Comcast states it so well: “With an overwhelming amount of content choices, we need to make them personalized, make them easy to interact with, make them simple, make them fun, and make them beautiful and easy.” So, why are we constantly being romanced by all the bells and whistles of technology when, as designers, we know this does not always lead to learning?

In an effort to remind us all how to get back to basics, here are ten instructional design tips for keeping your web courses simple, yet effective.

Content Tips

  1. Remember that the goal of effective training is improved performance.
  2. Good content flows from the simple to the more complex, and follows the process of the job.
  3. Write sentences that are short and powerful by deleting unnecessary big words.
  4. Use bullet points where appropriate; concise key points can be very effective.
  5. Create real-life situations and scenarios that your learners can relate to; avoid creating complex and outrageous situations that might decrease your credibility.
  6. Create content that is clear, concise, and engaging.

Visual/Audio Tips

  1. Use lots of white space.
  2. Use simple graphics, pictures, and shapes (even if “A picture is worth a thousand words”).
  3. Avoid using more than two different colors or font types.
  4.  The same concepts apply towards audio as well – keep it simple! Be cautious of the rate of speech, and avoid using jargon and slang.

When creating e-learning, it is easy to get caught up in all the “awesome” things the tools can do. Whenever I encounter instructional designers who are faced with deciding whether to use these bells and whistles, I always ask them, “Will it help your learners perform better on the job?” Learners’ intrigue with all the bells and whistles lasts only seconds before boredom sets in so if you’re going to use these options, make sure they will reinforce learning and ultimately, impact performance back on the job.

In a rapidly shrinking world, we need to design courses that will be easily understood by a world-wide audience. Whenever you get tempted to “romance” the technology too much, stop and ask yourself, “Who are you trying to impress, and who is going to benefit?” I think you’ll soon realize, keeping things simple is best!

What are your tips for simplifying online learning?

Langevin Team

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2 Responses to “10 Instructional Design Tips for Simplifying Online Learning”

  1. CathyA says:

    These are great tips to use as a guide for designing an online course. A checklist will certainly keep things simple and allow the focus in the right elements.

  2. Srujan says:

    Great tips for designing an online course. Check list will certainly help.

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