Have you ever purchased a product at the store because of the packaging, and then after using it you realize it’s not that great? Or perhaps you lose interest?
I think we all have gone through this experience at some point.
The last time this happened to me was when I was at the grocery store.I saw a pack of gum (you know, the ones they put right in front of your face for the impulse buy).
One package caught my attention. It was cool. It was flashy. I was intrigued – so I bought it.
The gum on the other hand did not live up to the package, and I ended up throwing it out when I got home.
What does this have to do with elearning?
Today, there is a large emphasis (perhaps overemphasis) on the style of an elearning course. Visuals are taking precedent. Instructional designers think that just because something looks nice, then it must be good.
An online course with good visuals is always appreciated, but it shouldn’t end there. The more important component to think about is user engagement. User engagement is an all encompassing term. It relates to the course content, the course structure, interactive components, and the visuals.
In other words, you should be concerned about making your courses engaging. An engaging course is more effective than a visual masterpiece.
By way of example, let’s consider a gaming app. At one point in time the Facebook game “Farmville” was extremely popular. For those of you who don’t know, the entire point of this game was to grow virtual crops.
While this sounds boring, many found the gameplay addicting – they were completely engaged with the program.
Oh, and the graphics looked like they were from 1992!
But this didn’t matter because the experience of the game was what people cared about.
Take a lesson from Farmville for your next online course. Have pleasing visuals, but put the emphasis on engaging the learning into the content. Your courses will be far more effective.