March 27th, 2012 WordPress

worriedfaceAs Instructional Designers, we all want to make the best e-Learning modules possible, so we better get these three things right or our courses’ effectiveness will spiral down the drain.  Nothing can be more frustrating than spending hours upon hours creating a course, only to see lack luster effectiveness metrics (you’re measuring effectiveness, aren’t you?)  Beware of these three course killers:


1. Poor Cosmetics

They say don’t judge a book by its cover… but we do it everyday anyhow.  If your course looks anything like powerpoint slides, you’re courses’ effectiveness has taken a blow.  The corporate arena as well as educational settings are suffering from “death-by-powerpoint” every single day.  The last thing anyone wants to do is spend an hour progressing slides hosted in a “player” instead of Microsoft PowerPoint.  This is a potential danger for anyone who develops using Articulate, SNAP by Lectora, or any other plugin addon.  If you do use these, ensure that there is some form of animation and strategic infusion of flash elements.


2. Making Transition Assumptions

One time I was reviewing a fellow employee’s e-Learning course, ensuring that the content made sense, as well as the flow.  Well, the content was spot-on, no doubt due to the hours upon hours of meeting with SMEs and mapping out the company’s process.  The flow wasn’t even that bad either, each lesson and topic followed a nice sequential order.  So what killed it?  The transitions.  My colleague made the mistake of jumping from one topic to the next without creating a logical link.  In most cases, all that was needed was a simple sentence or two explaining what the user had just read and what is coming up next (and why).  Simple fix to a big problem.  If this course was taken as-is, particiapnts would eventually become frustrated as the content flow wasn’t linked properly.


3. Consistency

This one is a killer, possibily the biggest of all.  It applies to both the look and feel of the course as well as the content.  If you aren’t consistent in either of these areas, participants won’t trust the information.  Some  inconsistent items in courses include:

  • Using an acronym in one instance, then using the full version of the acronym
  • e-Learning, elearning, eLearning, E-Learning … if you have a word with a dash, make sure it’s used the same way
  • Bullet point font colors change
  • Font size changes
  • Animations of consistent items are different
  • Summary content structured differently for differnet lessons
  • Flow of course (pick a format and stick with it across all lessons)


I am sure that there are other course killers out there (heck, I can think of another three right now… perhaps another post is warranted), but these three are some of the more common, and most easy to fix during development.


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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter

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2 responses

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Hi Justin,

I liked your post. I would like to add that for effective transitions one must not just state what was covered and what will follow but also connect why what we just went through is important for the next topic.

I have observed that often the link connecting two topics is missing in the course and that distracts from the content.

Hope this helps!


Avatar Mugdha

Yes Mugdha, good point. Explaining “What” and “Why” will certainly help with transitions. Personally, lack of transitions is something I find extremely distracting whenever I am taking part in training.

Avatar Justin

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