Five golden rules to ensure high-quality e-learning
Creating digital content is a hot topic right now. Working from home means there is a greater need for digital training materials (such as e-learnings) so that employees can continue to learn from a distance. They can go through these e-learnings whenever they want and how often they want.
But how do you ensure high-quality e-learnings? Discover my five golden rules below!
1. Provide a simple and clear structure
How many chapters does my e-learning consist of? Do I create one e-learning or do I split the content into modules? It is important that you think about this in advance. If you have already started creating content then it’s difficult to change everything again afterward. It is known that the concentration span of a learner is not long. So if your e-learning is too long, learners will drop out because of the tediousness. Short, gradual modules (micro-learning) are therefore best recommended. The advantage of this is that learners can quickly follow modules ‘on the go’ and are not lost if they have to stop after a few modules. They can easily pick up where they left off.
Build your e-learning in the same way every time. Whether you divide it into different modules, or you create one comprehensive e-learning, make sure that the structure is logical and always the same. This way the learner always knows where he/she is in the e-learning, which is extremely important to ensure that they don’t drop out. An example:
- Welcome page
- Navigation page
- Learning objectives
- Chapter page(s)
- Content page(s)
- End page
In addition to a logical structure, you can also choose to add a ‘how does an e-learning work’-page. There is more and more focus on digital content and e-learnings, but it is not always easy for a learner to immediately know how an e-learning works, even if you have the most logical structure. This page allows you to explain what the different buttons mean and how the learners best navigate through the e-learning. It is not a mandatory page, but if they need it, they can consult it. You should always take into account that it may be the first time they view an e-learning.
The combination of short e-learning modules, and a logical (and predictable) structure, reduces the chance that the learner will get stuck and drop out.
2. Assume that learners don’t know what to do and how to navigate
As I mentioned above: it may be the first time that learners view an e-learning. You can add a ‘how does an e-learning work’-page in your structure. However, adding this page is not enough. Throughout the e-learning it also must be clear on every page what the learner has to do: should they click on something, view a simulation, read a text,…? Don’t assume that everything is immediately clear when they start the e-learning. It is best to provide a short instruction on each page that clearly states what action is expected of them.
This also applies to navigation. Do not assume that learners know how to navigate through the e-learning. Each navigation button has to lead somewhere or trigger a certain page. The navigation must be clearly indicated, for example by working with arrows and/or changing the color of the button when you hoover over it. This way you show that there is an action behind the button.
An example of navigation with arrows and clear instructions (in Dutch):
Clear instructions and navigation guarantee the flow in the e-learning and it reduces (again) the chance that the user will get stuck and drop out.
3. Dynamics and interactivity stimulates attention
It is known that a learner’s concentration span is not long. In addition to making short, gradually e-learning modules, you can also make the module itself dynamic and interactive. Use animation to ensure that the learner’s attention is stimulated. For example:
- You can let him/her discover info by performing an action on the page (clicking on or scrolling over a button).
- Adding photos, videos, simulations, etc. also ensures dynamics and interactivity in an e-learning.
- In between or at the end you can ask a number of questions about the content, which on the one hand tests the knowledge of the learner and on the other hand (again) stimulates attention.
Making an e-learning dynamic also entails danger. You have to make sure there is a good balance. Too much animation and dynamics can disrupt the flow of the e-learning. A learner does not always want to perform actions continuously. Sometimes they just want to read or watch something, without doing anything themselves. Finding a good balance is an absolute must!
4. Use templates, but also your own creativity
t is always handy if you can use templates when creating your e-learning. By creating a few templates in the beginning, and defining a number of other resources (such as colors, fonts and sizes, …), gives you a head start in creating your e-learning. You can focus more on transferring the content aspects and you don’t have to worry about layout-related matters. In addition, you also ensure continuity and consistency in different e-learnings of one project, but also across projects and content creators. It is therefore important to invest enough time in this phase because it pays off in the long term.
Some examples of templates from our ZEN Best Practice Methodology:
However, using templates should not stop your creativity. There is nothing more exciting than looking at a beautiful, creative e-learning. As a content creator, you have to think out-of-the-box about how you want to show the content visually. Challenge yourself to find creative ways to make (boring) informative slides fun. It also provides dynamics. As already described in the previous point, you will stimulate attention by means of actions, animation and interactivity. However, you can also stimulate attention by, for example, working with a powerful color palette.
5. Good cooperation is the start of everything
Last but not least, when creating an e-learning, it is important to collaborate with your project team. They often have the substantive knowledge and know what input should be in the e-learning. As a content creator you have didactic knowledge and you know how to design an e-learning (especially when you are keeping these five rules in mind). By working closely with all parties, you achieve high-quality e-learning.
Giving and asking for feedback is an important part here. You give feedback about the type of content/input they provide: is the input clear to me? Will the learners understand this input? At the same time you get feedback about how the e-learning looks and how it is structured. Feedback is essential to be of quality. After you have fully designed an e-learning (or e-learning modules) together with your project team, you also need to collect feedback outside your team. Map out which parties can provide extra feedback and address them one by one, for example: key users, end-users, other content creators, … Dare to take a critical look at your own work!
From my experience, you can almost always reuse these rules when creating an e-learning module, but of course, you don’t have to feel obligated. Every content creator has his own way of working.
To summarize the five rules:
- Use short e-learning modules and a logical structure
- Don’t assume that learners know what to do in an e-learning
- Use dynamics and interactivity in your e-learning (but not too much) to maintain attention
- Use templates but don’t forget your own creativity
- Work closely with your project team by asking and giving feedback
At Amista we have a team full of e-learning consultants. We can help you design digital content for your company. However, we can also help you with the broader learning approach. Our preferred Digital Learning tools are SAP Enable Now as an authoring and content development tool and Litmos as the world’s easiest-to-use Learning Experience Platform.