Or something like that! A colleague’s recent email about Channel 4’s top 100 greatest albums got me thinking about an obsession they seem to have to make a top 100 list of just about anything. We might be tired of this format but maybe it isn’t much different to how we present learning. We often use bite-sized chunks of learning, either face to face or within e-learning with opportunities to delve further – by practicing, discussing, doing etc…… And we also seem to like lists of things…..top ten tips for interviews, or tips for finding a home overseas etc….which of course leads me on to one of our very own top ten lists, courtesy of our very own Julian Stodd:
Top Ten Tips for Successful E-Learning:
1. Get the message right – before you put hand to keyboard to build a piece of e-learning, map out all of the key messages on a piece of paper. Review and refine this with all the key stakeholders. Once you have your messages agreed, then, and only then, decide what media is best for communicating those messages.
2. Once you have your key messages, map out how you are going to evaluate the learning. Are you going to test straight knowledge retention or are you looking to see that users can synthesise the new knowledge into their existing framework. If you really want a piece of learning to be effective, it should challenge users to make connections themselves.
3. When you start designing your learning, an you write some content, read it out loud. If it seems stilted and boring to you, it will seem the same to everyone else. Never underestimate how quickly people will be bored. Go back and lose a third of what you’ve written. Don’t patronise people or assume they can’t make leaps of understanding. Challenge established conventions and don’t be afraid of making bold statements.
4. Start with content, not design. It’s a mistake to try and make things look good without being sure they make sense.
5. Proof it properly. Nothing looks worse than spelling mistakes or poor grammar in a piece of e-learning. When you’ve proofed it, give it to someone else to read and get their opinion.
6. Navigation is one of the easiest things to get wrong. Establish your interface early and stick to it. Don’t move the same button to different places in different pages. Once you’ve established a convention keep it in place so that people can focus on learning the content, not the interface.
7. Are you lost? People get lost in information really easily – make sure your users can track their way back to the start really easily. Leave a trail of breadcrumbs so that you know what section you are in and what page you are on. Whilst you’re at it, try to give an indication of overall progress (I.e page 2 of 5). People like to know that they are getting somewhere.
8. Introduce sections properly and summarise regularly. Watch a video, provide a summary. Read some text, summarise it. Use summaries to round off sections of learning.
9. Do you have an objective? If you put your learning objectives at the front of each section, don’t be afraid to use a range of verbs to describe the objective: At the end of this section you will have…. “explored what it means to learn”, “described your own learning experiences”, “Analysed what people have done”, “Reflected back on your own story”, “Built a concrete plan of what to do next”.
10. Don’t be afraid to point out that the emperor is naked. Just because everyone else says it’s great, doesn’t mean that you have to agree. If you are unsure that something is right, build evidence for your decision. People will respect a challenge which is evidenced… usually!