One of the many bi-products of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a more rapid movement to the avenue of online learning. A memorable e-learning course or experience is not as simple as taking a PowerPoint deck of slides and uploading it to a learning management system. Here are a few lessons which we at RCA have learnt over the 7 years of digital content creation and online experience management.
1. Start with the Purpose
There is no simpler way to build online content than to know WHY it is being built in the first place. In other words, what purpose is this module or course serving? The mistake that many make when deciding on the objectives or outcomes of the course is that they are trying to achieve too much. By having too many objectives or outcomes, one essentially just dilutes the focus of the content. Go narrow and deep rather than wide.
2. Less is More
It is no secret that people's inclination today to sit for hours trying to digest subject matter is not what it used to be. There are distractions everywhere and focus has never been a more scarce commodity. Building online content is about getting your message across in the most succinct manner possible with the opportunity for the learner to link to additional readings or videos if the inclination exists.
3. Variety is the spice of life
Tony Robbins, amongst others, has taught us that a degree of variety in everything we do keeps us fresh and eliminates monotony. There is nothing worse than paragraphs and paragraphs of text without any variation in sight. The same can be said for 40 page PDF's which are uploaded with the expectation that the learner must digest every element of the content without any audio or video to improve the learner experience. The best rule of thumb is to view the content as if you were the learner having to endure the module. Is there a sufficient amount of variety to maintain your interest?
4. Ratios are key
One of the most significant challenges of online learning is that it can be a rather lonely road. The opportunity for interaction and connection with other people does not present itself as obviously as the live learning environment. It is therefore vital that one creates what we call a busy two-way street. There must be a constant give and take happening between learner and the system. Too much content without a deliverable from the student is off-putting regardless of the subject matter.
5. Convenience is king
Nothing puts people off any online experience more today than a clunky user experience. Make it as easy as possible for a learner to be able to access the platform on all of their devices. There is nothing worse than having to sift through emails to try and find the link to the platform. Provide easy steps of how they can save it either as a bookmark or onto the home-screen of their table or mobile.
6. Celebrate excellence personally
Ensure that you are keeping tabs on those who are championing the modules or courses. Make a point of communicating with them individually and recognising them for their efforts. On scale and with different course commencement dates, this can become tricky but make time to personalise the way in which great students are acknowledged.