Designing and creating e-learning modules have become quite a lucrative business around the world. The best thing about this phenomenon is that more and more people are getting drawn into the industry - which is good. This, however, makes the environment quite competitive. So, I'd like to share the 10 keys that separate successful e-learning professionals from "everyone else."
Successful designers do their research regarding their audience. They do not assume that each module would take the same approach as the last one. Capable designers give a lot of effort in ensuring that each session is tailor-fit to their target learners.
2. They put the social aspect of learning as a priority
One of the truths that elearning designers have to live with is that learning is a social experience. The truth that "no man is an island" holds true in this profession; however, technological limitations play a big part in implementing a social learning approach to most elearning programs. Successful designers find creative ways to overcome that dreadful pitfall called "instructionalism;" and still insert an aspect of social constructivism despite all the challenges.
3. They greatly respect learners' time and attention span
One of the biggest challenges for elearning designers is cramming all that content into a learning module. The best designers select (or work with SMEs to select) only the most relevant information to include in a session and work within their learners' attention span. They know which content to include and exclude, and how to also divide a supposedly long and boring session into smaller, more effective ones.
4. They design with usability and user experience in mind
Within the past few years, UXUI (user experience and user interface) has been the most important part of designing apps and websites. UXUI determines the likability and the usability of the app/website itself - the better the UXUI, the higher the tendency of the customer to come back. Same with e-learning, the better the UXUI, the more effective the learning becomes.
5. They realize that 'less is more' when it comes to design
Great visual designers know that there should only be a certain number of elements on the screen/canvas. Too many elements take away the focus from the message. The same principle applies to e-learning design. Too many elements distract the learner and make the session less effective.
6. They view everything in the eyes of a novice
Capable elearning designers simplify everything. If they can't explain the content to a novice through their design, then it isn't very effective. Successful designers take on the shoes of a novice and view the module through the eyes of a beginner - usually avoiding industry jargon, terms that are too technical, and "over-the-top" explanations.
7. They include follow-through as part of their strategy
Distinguished elearning designers do not stop at just creating the module itself, they also include follow-through activities. They know that in order to ensure learning and retention, there has to be additional reinforcement - and they have the proper tools and know-how to execute it. Successful designers can be summed up in one word: STRATEGIC.
8. They solve problems
Elearning modules and programs don't just pop out out of nowhere, there is always a reason behind their existence. Designers exist to solve these problems; and it just doesn't stop by identifying an issue. Great designers gather all the data needed to ensure that they are deploying the correct intervention for the problem. Exemplar designers know that elearning is not always the solution.
9. They put content as king
No one wants boring content, and more importantly, no one wants irrelevant content. Capable designers do a lot of research on their content (or work closely with SMEs) to make sure that the content is relevant to the audience. Moreover, it is the designer's job to make sure content is interesting and fun.
10. They have a STRONG grasp of instructional design
This aspect is most probably the most important element of elearning design. The common misconception is that as long as someone knows graphic design and can operate a rapid authoring tool, they can be considered elearning designers. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Instructional design dictates what approaches can be deployed for the audience based on decades of scientific study. Instructional design puts the science behind the art.
There you go! These, we believe, are 10 keys to becoming an elite elearning designer. Do you have any more keys to success that you can share with us? Let us know through the comments field below. Cheers!