elearning design tips

eLearning got to be „hot” since March. The industry has been growing constantly, but there was little „noise” around it until social distancing became a necessity. Suddenly, eLearning became an emergency and people treated it as such. When it’s urgent to take out the garbage, you tie the bag as securely as possible and you take it out fast so it won’t start dripping and ruining your floors. This is what happened in online in the last couple of months, globally: videos with poor scripts, missing learning goals, lacking structure, user experience like in the ‘90s, zero gamification, fire, fire, fire! So, users buy the classes, but don’t follow-through. They can distance “in something” other than your ecourse if it’s garbage. I recently translated and subtitled some interviews with specialists – cool people…total boredom. Because it’s not enough to take the specialist, place him in front of the camera, publish an ad on Facebook and wait for sales to pick up. If you are serious about it and you want to launch an eLearning business, get a digital learning architect! You need her from start to finish.

1. Invest correctly in building or choosing an online platform to get long-term benefits

It’s similar to building a house: you start with a project. You hire an architect to make the project. You let him decide the diameter of the pillars for your house. Because he knows best and you don’t want an unstable roof. In eLearning, the learning architect starts from the scope of the program, who are the participants, the learning objectives, what “learning journey” they will go through, what techniques and methods should be used, what are the right ingredients to take the students from “Once upon a time” to “the HAPPY end”. If everything is built and chosen correctly, after the course, the participants should change a behavior, not just absorb information from videos. A smart learning architect would use some gamification elements: timed challenges, rewards, occasions for collaboration and competition, badges, leaderboards, sky is the limit. As a client, you may have an opinion, but the learning architect answers for the impact of the course. I, for example, can make a sketch plan starting from what you want, for who, until when you need it ready and what resources you have, in max 2 hours.

2. If you want to transform your class-based courses in eLearning, the costs can increase exponentially

It’s like when you renovate an old house. You buy it for a good price, it looks decent and when you start the work, you realize the piping is too old to keep and the electric cables need to be changed, too. Unseen costs everywhere. If your class-based courses consist of hundreds of pages of PDFs or PPTs and you want to magically transform them into online courses with a minimal cost, because you “already have the content”, you are living a lie. A potential client asked me to use his “educational forum”, which allows text-based posts, and transform it into a platform that offers content on “21st century employability skills”. It’s like asking for a lightspeed elevator to be installed in one of those really old buildings on which there is a sign at the entrance “watch out, bricks falling!”. The skills of the future can be taught with the tools of the previous century, but…doesn’t it defy the purpose? For an investor, it’s a financial pit for sure. I recommended him to get over the “investment cost” bias he made years ago in that forum and leave the PDFs behind and invest the actual needed amount to start on a “clean sheet”, with modern instruments such as Storyline, Articulate 360 or at least videos. No one would read a PDF just because it’s not attached to an email, but is online in a forum and its title was changed – now it contains “online class” in it. The least we can do it to update it and package it into microlearning – “bites” of 2 minutes that can be consumed anywhere and anytime the student wants from a basic mobile app.

3. Personalize your eLearning programs and align them to your business brand

The difference between any program and YOUR program is like the difference between “a house” and “home”. A feeling that’s difficult to explain, but easy to describe: the couch has the shape of your body when you sit on it, that green pillow supports your shoulders and neck perfectly when you watch TV. Some call it feng shui, others say it’s enough to hire the right interior designer to have it. In eLearning, is called interface and user experience. Is that “something” that makes the student enjoy learning and come back to your course. For the student, this creates a feeling of belonging to a group, the wish to be better, to stick to the “learning journey” even though he could go to the beach now if he wants to. Though it’s difficult to create, this feeling of “home” is part of the learning architecture, not part of marketing or PR. Is not core, it’s like getting a second cherry on top of a cake. If you describe how “home” smells and tastes for you, I can transform “a house” into “home” for your eLearning students.

I designed digital learning architecture for eLearning platforms built from zero. The student experience produced testimonials that include “we want more”! So, we ended up creating course after course after course. I transformed class-based courses into ecourses successfully, but most of the time overpassing the budget and with a short usability of 9-12 months, for emergencies. I “reshaped” learning experiences for students who “didn’t want to go home anymore”. I love what I do and would be glad to offer you some advice if you want to publish a eLearning course or create a eLearning platform that sells – Armina Sirbu.

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