Simplify Your Learning: 5 Tips for Slimming Down

At some point, we’ve all been stuck in a meeting or class that seemed to drag on forever. You don’t want anyone to have that feeling while they’re taking your eLearning. If a course or lesson lasts too long, learners are likely to stop paying attention and start wondering, “How much is left?” So, here are 5 tips for keeping your online education focused and easy to digest.

keep eLearning simple

1. Use Less On-Screen Text
A lot of eLearning crams too much text on screen. Truthfully, most learners don’t read all of it, they scan. The best way to cut down on unnecessary text is to edit it down to the bare minimum. Ask yourself: How can I say the same thing in fewer words? Using the present tense instead of the future tense is one small, but significant way, to do this. “Next, you will click the button” is less direct than “Next, you click the button. ” It may not seem like much, but if you cut out those few extra words every time, the savings really add up. Bullet points are another popular method for reducing the word count. Anytime you are presenting a list of information, consider using bullet points with the key points instead of a paragraph of text .

2. Watch Content Density More Than Screen Numbers
You can have a high screen count on quick, user-friendly training your learners will enjoy. You can also have a low screen count on a maddeningly slow paced course that bores learners to death. Content density is the determining factor. Avoid over-dense eLearning. If each screen has only a few, focused elements, like some concise text with a supporting image, learners are less likely to feel overwhelmed. On the other hand, if every screen is covered, top to bottom with text , accompanied by long narration, the eLearning won’t be easy to digest, even if there are only a few screens. Although not visible on screen, audio contributes to content density, too.

3. Include Printable Resources
If you have a lot of information that absolutely has to be included, consider creating a supplementary printable resource, like a PDF. That way your learners have the option of saving it for later reference or printing the material without having to access the course again.

4. Split Content into Several Parts, if Appropriate
A one-hour online training course is a daunting prospect. Four fifteen minute modules aren’t quite as intimidating. Depending on the subject, you may be able to chunk your course into several short modules. Or, you could use a menu or topic selection screen that will allow learners to take one section at a time within the overall course.

5. Get Another Pair of Eyes on the Content
This doesn’t trim down the content per say, but it can tell you if you need to cut back. If possible, have someone who has never seen the online course give it a test drive. They’ll likely notice little things the production team didn’t, and can give you a fresh perspective on the pacing and complexity of the content. If they think it’s too slow or confusing, there’s a good chance that your members may as well.

It’s best to design slim eLearning from the start. This will help ensure that learners check out your eLearning, rather than mentally checking out. There are ways to get it down to size before it reaches your learners. Do you have any other tips for keeping your association’s online learning from getting too overwhelming? I’d love to hear your ideas for simplifying eLearning.

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Jennifer Ritter

From storyboards to module building, Jennifer covers a lot of eLearning ground as an instructional designer, writer, and course creator. She earned her B.A. at Rollins College and draws on her past life as an occasional amateur film maker for insight on the zaniness of the production process. This Jen-of-many-trades is fascinated by the role of storytelling and gameplay in learning and engagement. This may or may not be connected to her urge to write novels and love of videogames and most things “nerdy.” A passion for learning that started in school and led to tutoring has happily landed her in the mystical realm of eLearning.

Spirit animal: Hawk
Diet-breaker: Ice cream
Comfort object: Throw blankets
Personal vice: Medieval-fantasy novels
Useless talent: Remembering useless facts
Unreasonable paranoia: Rollercoasters
Wishes more people cared about: Other people


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