The key to success in eLearning, as in any other business for that matter, is to never rest on your laurels.
That doesn’t mean that you have to strive for the ultimate perfection — just that you should never get too complacent with the quality of your eLearning offering.
And, lest you think we’re taking theoretically, in this post we’ll detail 10 concrete pieces of advice which you can use to improve your course material and your learners’ LMS experience.
1. Adding things in
Whatever your course’s content is, we can pretty much guarantee that it is lacking in several areas.
Perhaps your writer didn’t do the required research for some chapter. Or maybe he cut some corners in order to deliver it before the deadline. Or perhaps it was just fine for when it was written, but now, a few years down the line, things have changed regarding the topic it describes (e.g. 4G internet wasn’t available in 2010 — now it is).
In any case, there will be places in your course’s content where you’re not giving your learners the full picture. Your job is to identify those cases and to make sure that they’re updated to cover all that they need to.
2. Taking things out
This is the other side of the advice given in our first tip.
Nearly every book, and by extension every eLearning material, has chapters that are long, and more detailed or wordy than they need to be.
Perhaps the writer couldn’t stop himself. Perhaps he didn’t have time to take things out and rewrite the material to be more succinct (something that, surprisingly, takes more time than mindlessly piling up paragraph upon paragraph).
Your job, in this case, is to find those cases of superfluous content and take it out. Your lessons will be all the better for it.
Typography — the use of fonts and grids in the presentation of text, is an important part of making your courses accessible and easy to read.
Even if your users can’t always articulate it, bad typography will hurt their learning experience, and might even drive some of them to abandon your eLearning courses altogether.
If you can afford it, bring in a properly trained graphic designer to design your courses’ typography. Your nephew that “knows Photoshop well” and designs party flyers won’t really do.
If you can’t afford a graphic designer, don’t despair (and don’t call that nephew of yours either). There are lots of free tutorials on the web where you can learn the basics of proper web typography. At least try to apply those principles to your course.
Humor might not be the best medicine (no doctor would prescribe Ben Stiller to cure your flu), but it’s a great way to get your students’ attention.
Instead of some long, boring, course content, how about trying to turn it into an overly long, funny, course content? Humor makes lessons more memorable (and obviously, more pleasurable), and helps attract the students’ attention for what comes next.
It doesn’t have to be LOL funny, mind you. A few light touches, the occasional funny aside, or some puns will do. Of course, this works best when you (or your writer) already have a good sense of the comedic, which won’t always be the case.
5. Media galore
Text alone won’t cut it nowadays. Even when you already have the best Harvard or MIT-quality course content, you can still make it 10 times more interesting and richer looking to your users by adding some multimedia.
The term is broad enough to encompass anything, from photos, clip art, audio recordings and video to a full-blown 3D VR experience.
Your multimedia doesn’t even have to do that much with your course’s content — as long as it is vaguely related (e.g. showing a picture of a forest when you talk about the environment), it will do. Of course, if it helps illustrate a point in your lesson, then that’s even better.
Take advantage of TalentLMS‘ extended multimedia import options (powered by our proprietary EncodeMagic engine), to include all kinds of media assets in your lessons, from pictures and songs to PowerPoint presentations.
Another way to make your courses more interesting is to tie them into a larger narrative. In other words, to try to tell a story with your content.
It’s no accident that storytelling techniques are often employed in children’s learning books and online courses.
As research has shown, humans are wired to pay special attention to storytelling and can retain things that they heard in story form much better than other information.
So, whether you’re targeting children or enterprise employees, adding a few narrative touches to your lessons will make them sit and pay attention to what comes next. A perfect excuse to set your inner Hemingway on the loose.
If there’s a thing humans of all ages like more than listening to stories, that would be playing.
Gamification allows you to tap into this gaming instinct, and use it to increase engagement and start up a little friendly competition among your learners.
TalentLMS, in particular, offers a plethora of gamification options, with badges, leaderboards, levels and other such standard industry tools for trainers that are very easy to deploy and very effective in making your courses more engaging.
Actual or perceived loading speed are among the things that can easily make or break a website. In test after test, users have been shown to leave pages never to come back if they take more than a few seconds to load.
TalentLMS is plenty fast by itself, of course, and optimized by our expert team of Cloud administrators. But what about your course’s content?
Very large blocks of text, custom fonts, slow to load custom or third-party scripts, or maybe that 2MB PNG image where a 200KB JPEG would do, may be killing your performance. Even if it works fine for you when checking from your 50Mbps VDSL office line, have you tried to access it over 3G?
Check your eLearning portal with a tool like YSlow or with Chrome’s excellent Developer Tools, and make the necessary adjustments towards a more lightweight and faster loading webpage.
Another thing that might be giving your learners a hard time might be that your content is actually too hard for them to grasp.
Just because the person who wrote it is an established expert on the field, it doesn’t mean that they can safely assume that your learners will be too. Actually, judging from the very fact that they take online lessons on the subject, they probably are not. So give them something appropriate for their level.
Of course what’s appropriate really depends on your audience. One would rightly expect a whole different level of learning performance and study pace from university students compared to smaller children or working adults.
Use TalentLMS’ reporting tools to check grades and test results, determine your audience’s pain points, and prune (or explain better if needed) anything in your content that’s hard for them to grasp or goes above their heads.
10. Gratuitous nudity
Hey, it works wonders for Hollywood, right?
OK, OK, we’re kidding (see tip #4). But how about rewarding them for their efforts, though?
We’ve already mentioned gamification, but possible reward and “loyalty” systems go beyond that. For example, you could have small token prizes for the learners that do exceptionally well. Or you could reward users that bought multiple courses by letting them buy more at a discount rate.
TalentLMS offers both discounts and coupon codes to help you build your own rewards system for your heavy users.
So, we talked about 10 quick tips for improving your courses and enhancing the LMS experience of your users.
There are, of course, many many more, and we’ll come back at some point with another list of totally different, but equally proven suggestions.
In the meantime, do you have any favorite tips on your own? Share them with us and your fellow TalentLMS users in the comment section below.
Until next week, happy eTeaching!