What Makes Good eLearning?

If I asked you what makes good eLearning, how would you answer? Would you say instructional design? I’m sure you would—that’s what everyone says! But, think for a minute about all the other components that go into creating an eLearning course. It’s not just instructional design— it’s graphic design, user interface design, and visual communications!

In this post, I’ll share my thoughts on what makes good eLearning.

Graphic Design

what makes good eLearning by tim slade

Here’s some truth for you: humans are visual creatures! We “eat” with our eyes first, we fall in love with our eyes first, and we learn with our eyes first. It’s because of this that graphic design is so important when designing good eLearning!

When I first started in eLearning, I put all my efforts into instructional design. Although I wanted my courses to look better, I really only worried about graphic design if I had extra time at the end of a project.

Start with the basics: learn what colors and fonts work well together and how to create a clean and balanced layout. Practicing good graphic design techniques doesn’t mean learning how to create custom graphics. Sometimes it’s just a matter of moving things around on the screen until they look good.

What to learn more about how graphic design can make good eLearning? Check out these posts:

User Interface Design

what makes good eLearning by tim slade

When designing an eLearning course, how often do you think about the learner’s experience? And, when I say, “learner’s experience,” I’m not referring to the learning content! I’m talking about the literal experience learners have while using your course.

Besides the development of learning content, think about all the other elements you have to develop to make your course functional and interactive. As an eLearning designer, your job also includes user interface design!

When an eLearning course is difficult to use or lacks intuitiveness, it becomes a barrier to your learner! Is there a clear path forward? Do buttons look like buttons? Is the navigation consistent from one slide to the next? Making your course easy to use and navigate lets the learner focus on learning!

What to learn more about how user interface design can make good eLearning? Check out these posts:

Visual Communications

what makes good eLearning by tim slade

Do you know the difference between graphic design and visual communications? If not, you might be missing a huge opportunity to enhance the presentation of your learning content!

Graphic design relates to the way your course looks and feels. This is how your fonts, colors, images, graphics, layouts, and effects work together to create a cohesive design. Visual communications, on the other hand, relates to how you communicate ideas, processes, or procedures visually on the screen.

eLearning is a tool for visual communications. Carefully selecting a collection of images to represent an idea, creating a series of animations to explain a process, or designing a diagram to show the relationship between different concepts are all examples of visual communications. When storyboarding your learning content, you must always consider how you plan to visually communicate it on the screen.

What to learn more about how visual communications can make good eLearning? Check out these posts:

Instructional Design

what makes good eLearning by tim slade

When you’re new to eLearning, the concept of creating interactive content might be as simple as the learner clicking to reveal some learning content. However, let me ask you this: how much knowledge or critical thinking does it take for the learner to execute this task? Not much! Instead, strive to create interactions that require the learner to think before clicking.

This means the learner is challenged to make some decision or provide a response based on knowledge provided earlier in the course.

Here are some examples of interactivity that require the learner to think:

  • The learner is asked how to select an appropriate response to an angry customer.
  • The learner is asked to sort items by dragging and dropping them into multiple categories.
  • The learner is asked to type his or her response to an employee’s complaint.

Want to learn more about how instructional design can make good eLearning? Check out these posts:

What else would you say makes good eLearning? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

Additional Resources

Tim Slade
Tim Slade is a speaker, author, and award-winning eLearning designer. Having spent the last decade working to help others elevate their eLearning and visual communications content, Tim has been recognized and awarded within the eLearning industry multiple times for his creative and innovative design aesthetics. Tim is a regular speaker at international eLearning conferences, is a recognized Articulate Super Hero, co-author of the popular E-Learning Uncovered book series, and author of the The eLearning Designer’s Handbook.

One Response to “What Makes Good eLearning?

  • Excellent article, Tim. I really appreciate these tips. These components also apply to other learning and performance support tools. Some examples are job aids, interactive PDFs, PowerPoint presentations, reference guides, online content … the possibilities are endless.

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