From 360 Training by Shazia Wajid
Authors! Have you cooked up a delectable feast of content for your elearning course? After completing your first draft, it’s time to take a taste and analyze it. How is the pace of your course? Is it “well-spiced” with things that engage and delight—but not overloaded with elements fighting for attention? Does it leave your learners feeling satisfied after they consume it?
While there are many ways to improve elearning content, the following are a few easy tips to fine-tune it before serving it up to learners. Take these into consideration, and you’ll soon be on your way towards a tempting, mouth-watering course!
- Visual appeal: Images can play an important role in learning, either as a garnish to set the mood or as the primary element served up on a given page. That said, you can have too much of a good thing. Images that do nothing to support the learning or that clutter the slide and distract from the core message can spoil the true flavor of your course. Ensure that your images complement or support your message, are of good quality, and are of a consistent look and feel as you move from slide to slide.
- Bite size: We all crave tasty food, but shoving too much into your mouth at once, or mixing together too many radically different things in a single bite, is typically not the way to gustatory bliss. The same goes with elearning courses. Each slide is essentially a mouthful of content. As subject matter experts, we are often tempted to tell the student EVERYTHING we think might be helpful. Or, looking at a forlorn slide with a pitiful amount of content on it, feel the urge to go ahead and start a new topic that might have little to do with the last one. Keep in mind that information is useful to the extent that the learner is able to digest it. As elearning authors, we need to organize information, bite by tasty healthy bite, slide by invigorating slide, to help with this process. As a general rule of thumb, try to have a single core idea or message per slide. If you have excessive white space on a particular slide, consider a large relevant image that reinforces the slide’s message and gives the slide a more balanced, finished feel. Check out different slide templates in our Learning Content Management System (LCMS) and choose them as per your content needs.
- Flavor and nourishment: How does your content taste? Have high expectations for your learners, but as you explain things, be sure to stay within your learners’ reach given their existing knowledge and background. Understand whether they seek caviar, a hearty meal of barbeque, or tofu and sprouts. Given that context, make your content lively and understandable. Keep learners focused by asking questions, either rhetorical or integrated into activities. Involve them with compelling stories. Grab their attention by using real-life examples and use expressive words with which the learner can relate. Keep wording simple and jargon-free where possible. Make sure sentences are clear, concise, and sound natural—the way the words would come out if you were explaining the concept to them directly. Finalize your draft by reading it as if you are a learner. How do you feel? Overwhelmed? Underwhelmed? Comfortably full? Energized and eager for more? Edit out anything that doesn’t need to go on your learner’s “plate” and does not add value. Healthy, tasty, and satisfying keeps learners coming back for more!
- Is there a fly in the soup? While writing and reviewing content, always double-check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. Use punctuation marks and apostrophes appropriately (your/you’re, its/it’s). Pay attention to commonly confused words (their/there, principal/principle, weak/week). Avoid sentence fragments in your content. For best results, dedicate an entire review cycle to checking the written text. Need help? Try these tips on eliminating typos. Like a fly in the soup, or that insect appendage that wasn’t part of the order, sloppy text errors harm your content’s credibility and have been known to ruin a learner’s appetite.
- Is everything else as it should be? Copy-paste is convenient, isn’t it? Often, writers finalize their first draft of text-based content in their word processing tool of choice, and then copy and paste it into their course authoring tool. While this approach is very convenient, it can also be the source of unexpected formatting errors. The word processor and your course authoring tools are two different platforms, and the formatting that you applied in your final draft may be not always be copied over with all the formatting intact. Some tools, you may find, copy the content over with a little extra unexpected formatting. Always preview your content after you have pasted it in your course authoring tool. Common formatting errors due to platform differences include: bullet points, numbered lists, hyphens, m- and n- dashes, and special characters.
Transform your elearning course into perfect dining experience, that your learners may enjoy every bite—and that you might win that upcoming contest!