10 Golden Rules for ELearning Design

10-imageToo often today you will find organizations hastily slap-together a bunch of PowerPoint slides, upload them into a program like Articulate, click “publish” and call it “elearning”.

The reality is that this type of elearning development is just flat-out ineffective. Any instructional designer will tell you that in order to create effective training, there are certain design principles and models that should be leveraged.

Depending on who you speak to, you will likely hear a variety of tips and advice for how to create effective elearning courses. The list below, originally shared by CommLab, are a “golden rules” for elearning development.

For some of you, these might just be a reminder… but a little refresher never hurt anyone.

10 Golden Rules for ELearning Design

1. Start Strong: Make it a point to have a very memorable, solid beginning to your course using case studies, videos, testimonials, or statistics.

2. Set SMART Objectives: The objectives of your elearning should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

3. Remember Learning Styles: Present information in a variety of ways to appeal to the various learning styles.

4. Include Instructions: Navigating an elearning course shouldn’t be a mystery, always include instructions so users don’t get stuck.

5. Use First-Person: Write the content so that it uses a first-person voice.

6. Assessments Matter: Always include some form of assessment, but not just on memorizing. Also include questions to assess business context.

7. Avoid Distraction: Don’t overdue the graphics, sometimes simple text is enough to drive home a point. Stick with a standard color-scheme.

8. Include Exercises: Engage your learners by including exercises to split-up the content.

9. Pay Attention to Course Flow: Your courses should follow a logical progression and navigational pattern so as to avoid confusion.

10. Break-up Content: Don’t overload a screen with too much text or too many graphics. Breaking-up content into smaller chunks will allow for better learning retention.

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

8 Comments
  1. Justin, nice post! One question here:

    > Present information in a variety of ways
    Sounds interesting, but how do you do this on practice? Just combine talking + video demonstration + printed copies, or do you use some more sofisticated approaches?

    • Hi Alexander-
      Thanks for the comment. Think about it this way: no one wants to sit and be fed PPT slide after PPT slide. Include exercises, audio components, interactive areas (such as the ones capable by using programs like Captivate), simulations (i.e. when training to a new software), etc.

  2. Informative post Justin,

    However, do you really want eLearning developers to focus at Learning Styles?
    I would be more concerned about “The Concept of Individualized Learning Plans in eLearning”
    http://elearningindustry.com/the-concept-of-individualized-learning-plans-in-elearning
    and not about Learning Styles “Debunking the myth of Learning Styles” http://elearningindustry.com/the-myth-of-learning-styles

    Have a wonderful day,
    Christopher Pappas

    • Hi Chris-
      Thanks for the comment. Your point is well taken. The entire “learning style” label is a polarizing topic these days. I think the important takeaway is to present content in various mediums as some learners connect to some approaches more than others.

  3. Cary Glenn

    I disagree with designing for learning styles, design should be based on the subject.

    I also don’t think that instructions need to be included unless you are using some complicated interactions. If you need instructions to navigate the course you should consider redesigning the course.

    • Cary, I disagree with your point.
      Most of the elearning is targetted towards specific audience. Their competency level needs be assessed before even starting to design any course.

      The navigational instructions exist just to ease the student, nothing more. Not every training resembles a Stop, Look, Proceed type.

      @Justin
      Very nice articles. Bookmarking them for future. Hope to see more of it soon. Good Day

  4. Mike

    Hi Justin, I know this is an old post but I wondered if you were willing to explain more about point 5? What’s the reason for using first person? I’m finding it hard to imagine an entire course written this way. I’m curious to read more on this subject but don’t know where to find it – example or research that you could link me to?

    Cheers,

    Mike

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