Designing E-Learning: It Is Much More Than a PowerPoint Presentation

E-Learning is now more than an emerging trend, it is the preferred way of learning for industries worldwide. Forward looking organizations are serious about training and L&D managers keep looking into the needs of the learners to create learner-centric e-learning solutions. To keep up with the increasing need, they also often employ e-learning services from external resources to cater to the ever changing and dynamic learner needs.

To make e-learning truly effective, it needs to be developed keeping the nature of technology-aided delivery in mind. So designing an e-learning course should not follow the same strategies as designing a PowerPoint Presentation. If the same strategies are followed to create custom e-learning, the result is bland and uninteresting. Furthermore, it fails the first and foremost objective of training – it fails to engage the learner and as a result fails to perform his or her job within expected standards. The solution is to treat e-learning development separately and create strategies that align to the strengths of self-paced learning.

In the absence of an instructor, custom e-learning courses cannot just have one word ‘pointers’ with no explanations. Even if there are space constraints, e-learning designers have to make sure that each point is well explained to aid novice learners. An impactful way of doing this is to utilize audio to describe concepts in detail without taking up too much screen space. While the visual impact of the screen remains intact with minimalistic text, audio provides suitable descriptors to help learners understand better.

To further aid the individual needs of the learners, the option of turning off the audio can be provided for expert learner who do not need explanations of the introductory concepts. To provide learner re-enforcements and a chance to revise the topics taught through the e-course, the audio script can also be provided as a downloadable resource. The learners can later refer to it to re-enforce learning as per their needs.

Images are a powerful way of communication in an e-course. But here too, keep in mind that only appropriate images should be utilized and enough space should be provided in each screen to create visual ‘relief’.

Diagrams and Tables are also useful in reducing the text in an e-course – and can be liberally added to e-learning just like a PowerPoint presentation. But the difference is that diagrams and tables have to suitably labeled or explained to create the intended impact on the learner. Complicated diagrams or detailed graphs can share a lot of information. But this information can also confuse or startle the learners – especially if they are new to the subject.

In addition, detailed documents can be provided along with all e-courses that can be used as a job-aid as well as easy reference from time to time. This provides the learners the opportunity to study the subject in detail – as per their own need and pace.

E-courses should also be accompanied by a detailed ‘Help’ file -that aids the learner go through the course without any hitch. At any point if they are stuck or want to take a detour in the course, the help document should give them the required information then and there. Many learners are not accustomed to the technology-aided platform and e-learning developers should keep that in mind and create provisions for them.
E-Learning is an impactful way of delivering training in the corporate sector. But it is impactful only when its strengths as well as weaknesses are suitably studied and understood. Treat e-learning like it is and reap its many benefits.