“Help! My client / boss wants me to turn a 100 slide Power Point file into an e-learning course!”
Does this sound familiar to you?
On the one hand you want to build an effective and diverting e-Learning course that the learners will love but on the other hand there is so much content that (apparently) has to be covered.
One of the biggest challenge in creating an e-Learning course is to provide just the right amount of content – as much as necessary and as little as possible.
You do not want your course to end up as an information dump that nobody wants to view.
So in this post I´ll go through 5 strategies that will help you weed out unnecessary content and keep your course simple and clean.
1. What`s your goal?
First of all you should think about the goal of your course. What should the learner be able to do after he or she has completed the course? Typically the learners are expected to accomplish a specific task or be able to solve certain problems.
If your course is just about sharing information it gets a little bit more tricky.
In those cases you need to ask how the learner is expected to use the information after he or she has completed the course.
After you have defined the objectves of your course go through your material and ask yourself: What course content will help the learner meet those course objectives?
This strategy helps you to focus on the content the learner really needs to know in order to accomplish the goal. At the same time you get rid of all unnecessary content.
However, you can use the content that does not directly relate to the course goal but is “nice to know” as optional resource for those who want to know more detailed information about the topic.
2. One key message per slide
The second strategy to keep your course simple and clean is to reduce the cognitive load of the learner by only focusing on one key message per slide. Think about what central message you want to convey with this particular slide (typically the title of the slide contains the key message) and only use texts, images or interactions that flesh out your key message.
3. Structure your texts
Make sure to structure your texts – especially if they are longer. This increases the readability and makes the text more comprehensible.
Here we can follow the example of newspapers or magazines which structure texts using headlines, subheadlines, and paragraphs. You can also use info-boxes to highlight certain text passages.
4. Replace texts with images
A picture says more than thousand words – this is also true for e-Learning. Whenever possible try to use an image or infographic instead of plain text. But don`t use images just for the sake of using images. Again ask yourself: Does this image help the learner to accomplish the goal of the lesson / course?
5. Replace figures with diagrams and charts
Again, learners can grasp figures more easily with the help of a diagram or a chart. So make it a habit to visualize figures and data.
If you want your course to be effective make sure to keep it simple and clean. One of the most important steps is to figure out what content the learner really need to accomplish the goal of the course and which content is just “nice to have”.
If you do not want to weed out the “nice to have” content completely you can also use appendices or resource sites that learners can visit optionally.
Julia Reischert is an e-Learning designer based in Germany. She is the founder of simple-course.com and helps companies and learning organizations create engaging and visual appealing online courses.