5 Instructional Design Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake #1: Too much on-screen text.

We have all been guilty of this at some time or another (I blame PowerPoint). You have so much that you want to share with the learner that you end up adding too many bullet points or paragraphs onto a single screen. Even worse is if there are multiple lessons or topics in a row that just contain text.

What ultimately happens is that people just skim the text or don’t read it at all. If it is in an e-learning module then they will likely click “next” and avoid the lesson altogether.

What to do instead: leverage the principles of micro-content to add variety to the delivery and always ensure you have ample white space on screen.

Mistake #2: Incorrect selection of assets.

While micro-content can help with mistake #1, it should be used in a way that makes sense for the content being delivered. Just creating an audio lesson doesn’t necessarily mean it is better than text or a worksheet download. Does the course warrant an audio component and does that method of content delivery help to bring a learner towards the course objectives?

What to do instead: When selecting content for your lessons always keep the primary objective(s) in mind. Continually ask yourself if the delivery method you select is helping or hurting the learner in their journey towards the goals of the course.

Mistake #3: Too much clutter on the screen.

In an effort to avoid putting too much text it isn’t uncommon for instructional designers to interject other forms of media on the same screen. They will put images, graphs, text, and interactive elements together. The result is a cluttered experience that leaves the learner wondering which element contains the most useful information.

What to do instead: Select one form of media for the lesson. If you want to pick multiple then make sure that both methods are conveying the same key points so as to prevent learner confusion.

Mistake #4: Animation for the sake of using animation.

Have you ever gone to a website and it seems like every single element is animated? The images fly in from the sides of the screen, text suddenly appears as you scroll, images fade-in then fade-out. It’s distracting and makes for a terrible user experience. The same is true for e-learning. Just because you have the ability to animate everything doesn’t mean that everything needs an animation.

What to do instead: Find the element in the lesson that is the most important and animate just that item. This will draw the learner’s attention to it.

Mistake #5: Overall lack of flow between lessons.

This is often an issue when there are multiple instructional designers working on the same course, or if a course storyboard has not been created ahead of time. Your course should have a proven structure to guide a learner through the concepts.

What to do instead: Storyboard your course in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or another tool other than the e-learning development tool you plan to use. Make sure to call out the objectives and key takeaways for each section. This should be a comprehensive roadmap for your course. Make sure to include descriptions of the media that will be used and descriptions of any animations (if applicable).

Author

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Twitter | LinkedIn

2 Responses

  1. Great information! I’m in the process of making my first course. I tried out a free version over this last year, but am jumping into a better, cleaner, more professional version this year. So excited to be using LearnDash.

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