As instructional designers create courses, they rarely have the luxury of working at their own pace, and incorporating the elements they feel are truly needed. The reality is that most of the time, instructional designers have to work around pressing deadlines, and under a tight budget. Yet, they are still expected to deliver quality courses. Regardless of the time, or monetary constraints, course designers should consider the following five elements:
- ISD methods and principles – As we all know, ADDIE is the most popular ISD model; however, many instructional designers prefer a more rapid approach, so they tend to use the RID model instead. Yet, there are other designers who use a combination of different models and approaches. When you select the model to use for designing a particular eLearning course, be sure to shape it around your learning objectives.
- Language – The language you use in your eLearning course is your key to success. The rule of a tomb is to avoid complicated and technical vocabulary as much as possible, and use plain and easy to understand terminology instead. Before you begin developing your course, find out as much information as you can about your target audience, and use the language appropriate to learners’ demographics.
- Graphical elements and navigation – Most learners judge the course by its appearance, so, as instructional designers, we need to make sure that all graphical elements used in the course are relevant, and look professional on the page. We want to avoid using decorative graphic or graphic that has no meaning to the learner. Navigation should be user-friendly and intuitive. Otherwise, instead of concentrating on the content of the course, learners will spend time figuring out what to do. While it may be tempting to create fancy designs, the truth is that simple and clean design with few buttons and clear navigation works the best.
- Interactivity – The level of interactivity in your course often depends on time and budget constraints. For example, if you are under pressing deadlines and tight budget, creating an interactive game or simulation with many levels may not be possible. However, regardless of the time, money, content, and any other issues you may face, you must come up with ways to engage your learners. Short quizzes and checkpoints do not take a lot of effort, but make the training much more engaging in comparison to boring click and read courses.
- Section 508 compliance – Whenever possible, you should aim to make all of your courses accessible to people with disabilities. At the very least, you should add audio and text to all of your courses to accommodate people with visual and hearing impairments. In addition, as you develop your courses, think about all potential learners, and whether or not they have access to computers, Internet, and whether or not your course requires them to download any special applications. Your ultimate goal should be to standardize your design as much as possible, so that there will be no restrictions for anyone taking your training.
If you want to learn more about designing successful eLearning courses that bring results and improve performance, please check out the Instructional Design for eLearning: Essential guide to creating successful eLearning courses book. This book is also available in Spanish.
In addition, you may be interested in my Instructional Design for eLearning course.