eLearning evolved with online technology, offering people access to training and education remotely with the development of online chat, VOIP (voice over internet protocol), and video streaming. Unlike traditional methods of teaching, eLearning encourages more interactivity and can incorporate a wide range of multimedia files and format to ensure a more holistic approach to education.
As eLearning become greater in efficiency and accessibility, its critical to understand the fundamental principles and elements that go into designing an effective eLearning module.
eLearning is generally cheaper, more efficient, and more effective compared to traditional forms of training and education. A Brandon-Hall study found e-Learning typically requires 40-60% less employee time than learning the same material in a traditional classroom setting. The time saving is due to being readily accessible rather than during set times – allowing employees to learn on their own schedule.
After implementing an eLearning program in their company, IBM found that participants learned nearly five times more material without increasing time spent in training and noted that for every dollar spent, IBM saw $30 in increased productivity.
Britain’s Open University study found that producing and providing eLearning courses consumes an average of 90% less energy and produces 85% fewer CO2 emissions per student than conventional face-to-face courses.
eLearning is better for teachers, employees, students, and the environment, particularly as technology increases our capacity to incorporate online teaching into different education and business institutions.
According to Elucidat, there are five essential ingredients to effective eLearning. Relevant, Engaging, Available on demand, Integrates with workflow, and Bite-sized. The primary purpose of any eLearning content is to educate in a way that offers user control and encourages exploration.
There are four main types of eLearning. First is scenario-based learning, this is often seen in video eLearning and audio eLearning platforms. These are explored further on in Instructional Video, but the basic idea is to immerse users in content that allows them to learn by choosing answers. This is commonly used in safety instruction platforms.
Next is personalised learning, such as diagnostics that are often used as pre-assessment prior to eLearning. Diagnostics are tailored towards discovery learning, tailoring the content to the user’s choices and experiences. The form of personalised learning are digital toolkits, which focused on exploratory learning. These more like resources tailored to specific tasks or programs.
Micro-learning are resources offer usually for on-the-job training or performance support. These are usually standalone programs or can be modules combined in a more cohesive and comprehensive learning campaign. This can include blended-learning campaigns, which incorporate different elements from eLearning types to create a concise eLearning resource.
Digital storytelling is vital like any form of communication – because storytelling create audience engagement and empathy. This encourages more productive learning and memory retention as it evokes emotional response within audiences.
Flight simulators have been used in pilot training for decades; VR is being used to safely train mining students about hazardous environments and scenarios; laptops are commonplace in classrooms; people are using apps to learn languages and musical instruments.
All of these resources replicate features and aesthetics from video gaming. Since video games engage more sense than traditional teaching methods while encouraging interactivity, they’ve been finding more and more ways to influence education and training.
Furthermore, those same ingredients previously mentioned also borrow from video gaming too. Gamification as an eLearning device needs to be relevant, engaging, readily available, concise, and integrate into a person’s workflow and career path.
Gamified eLearning isn’t so much about designing a video game, but utilising elements commonly seen in video games to help by the eLearning module more engaging, motivating, and accessible for training and education. This includes elements such as storytelling, visual design, level progression, challenges, and rewards.
Think of apps like Duolingo, which teaches language through gamification, with different levels and rewards to encourage and track user progress. Apps also have the added bonus of push notifications, further allowing users to manage their education scheduling.
At its simplest, interactive teaching resources present educational information in a way that allows audiences to engage directly with the content. This gives users the opportunity to explore the information in their own way and at their own pace.
Much like presentation, interactive teaching is a multimedia experience that gives the audience direct input and engagement. This means users can instantly test their knowledge and receive instant feedback to highlight focus areas for future study.
eLearning Instructional Video
With the increasing global dominance video platforms are creating online – such as YouTube, Instagram Live, and Tik Tok – it makes sense to see video as a strong channel for education and training in this digital age.
eLearning platforms centred on video content are growing common; with Hubspot, Skillshare, Nebula, and YouTube’s own YouTube Learning, people are feeling empowered and connected enough to teach, learn, and share from their devices rather than traditional classroom settings.
Video allows teachers and trainers to express important educational material with visual references beyond text, such as infographics, photographs, and animation. Video is more engaging and better suited to memory retention than static text or audio.
Furthermore, using video in eLearning rather than live presenting or webinar offers users the opportunity to move through the content at their own pace, pausing to take notes when necessary.
Commonly, video-eLearning content is categorised by chapter of video – and it’s generally better to keep each one brief rather than lump a mass of content into a longer video.
Since video is one-way communication, you should always begin with a script. This will also help determine what kind of video will best suit your eLearning program. Will your video include other media content such as audio or video recordings? Does it require on-screen instructions or screen sharing from your end?
Having a person’s face give instruction helps engage audiences better than merely a voice, however using just voiceover allows the instructor to provide more onscreen information. It’s trying to balance that suits your audience and the complexity of the content.
eLearning Live Webinar
As the world is seeing, many of us can operate remotely – running business, educational institutions, and social lives from our smartdevices. Webinar combines video content with live feedback and interactivity. It’s the next step after video conferencing because extends screen use beyond camera-to-video – offering onscreen graphics, live chat, and screensharing.
Like eLearning videos, it’s vital to start with a strong script. Good webinars start with a compelling topic, evolve into a great script, and finish as a complete multimedia experience that facilitates audience interaction while providing information and value.
In terms of finding the right webinar topic, it doesn’t hurt looking at frequently asked questions from your intended audience. Search industry-related social media groups and forums to get a feel for industry trends and challenges people are facing.
Search Google Analytics for the top traffic pages related to your product, service, or industry. Also, it’s important to ask your sales/service teams about the common questions they receive from customers. Otherwise, you can always poll audiences or check out your competitors for content ideas or knowledge gaps your webinar can fill.
With a strong topic, you now need to think about your webinar’s format in order to create the right script. Break your topic down into further details to determine the best format(s) for your audience. Formats include single presenter, dual presenter, panel, Q&A, industry expert/influencer interview, and product demonstration.
Each of these formats have a different tone and require varied amounts of writing. For example, if you were conducting a panel, Q&A, or interview, you probably won’t need to write as much content as there would be space for improvisation and dialogue. Your webinar format depends on what your audience would prefer and what conveys your message best.
From here, all the standard rules of writing apply – be informative and entertaining, highlight benefits instead of product features, and be sure to keep it short and simple. As webinars are a just live-streamed presentations, you should practice beforehand. This will help you work out any kinks both in terms of content and equipment.
Also, since webinars can facilitate multimedia, consider the supplementary content you can provide audiences, such as an explainer video and sharing your slideshow. Multimedia files break up the monotony of speaking for too long and can be shared with your audience as an added resource.
eLearning After-Webinar Ideas
The end of your webinar offers a couple of great opportunities to engage with audiences. Of course, you should always make allowances for interaction in terms of audience questions, so be prepared to go off script, but also write down some key questions you think audiences may ask, in case your Q&A section faces a moment of awkward silence between you asking questions and audiences either thinking them up or typing them in.
The end of your webinar should offer a CTA, so audiences understand how to explore your brand further or contact you directly. Let your viewers know where they can find similar content or – better yet – solutions to the issues they face. If your webinar was done well, you’ll have presented your product/service in a way that informs audiences rather than sells to them. Always leave them wanting more and don’t be afraid to ask attendees for suggestions in terms of topics or potential improvements.
Post-webinar marketing is also very useful in terms of nurturing new leads and keeping momentum. Thank-you emails and social-media posts to show attendees you’re still available to address any follow-up questions. They can also be a cheeky way to survey your audience and find other ways to improve on your next webinar. A wrap-up blog can also help reengage attendees or entice those that missed out the first time.
It’s also very useful making your webinar available on demand and promoting any content published alongside it, such as your slideshow or supplementary blogs. A video of the webinar can be posted on your YouTube channel, which helps build more social engagement and provide a valuable resource to your audiences afterwards.
For more information on how to design and host an effective webinar, check out our Ultimate Guide to Webinars.
The hierarchy of information simplifies and prioritises information in accordance with importance to help audiences gain an understanding quickly and comprehensively. This is a critical element in all design and communications – it’s particularly important in interactive and eLearning design since progress can only be made by the user.
User experience is the heart of eLearning and interactive design – everything should be focused on educating the audience through their direct input. A good eLearning module should feature all the critical elements of interactive design in a way that makes the user experience seamless.
Buttons are the most critical element of any interactive design because its purpose is to facilitate user navigation through the content. These could be tiny icons that represent different content pages, or hyperlinks, eLearning needs to offer users a way to navigate the content.
Users must be able to find their way around your eLearning content and the soul of good navigation is simplicity. Here are some options for understandable navigation interfaces: Vertical navigation menus should only be used if you have the space or optimised for mobile. Long scrolling designs let users scroll through your content without navigating menus, which makes them much easier to use.
Single-option homepage design gives users one option to interact with, allowing them to interact with the eLearning content immediately and making it easier to funnel through the learning experience thereafter. A single option home page also keeps your design clear of clutter, allowing your content to stand out. Full-screen navigation turns the content into a menu rather than hide content behind actual navigational menus.
There are two main kinds of menus. Drop-down menus drop-down or pop out when user clicks a button. Drop-down menus can be enhanced with cascading sub-menus. These are additional drop-down menus which activate when users click options in your first menu.
Drop-down menus are useful when there is minimal space, especially on mobile since they require less processing power. They also tuck away navigation elements, allowing users to focus on the content.
Sticky menus stay in one spot while your user explores your eLearning content. They are usually found on the top and side of the screen. Sticky menus give users a greater sense of control, as they are always found in the same spot. They’re extremely effective for eLearning content that encourages action, they are also easier to create since they do not require complex animations
Whether you want a drop-down or sticky menu, both are easy to create in PowerPoint. To learn how to do both and much more, check out our Ultimate Guide to Interactive Content in PowerPoint.