A training is defined as successful only if it meets the learning objectives. Whereas, the objectives of an effective training are based on a robust and in-depth needs analysis.
The needs and the derived objectives collectively influence your course design, which includes: the learning design and the visual design.
After objectives, the design and the content form the meat of the course. If you manage to effectively blend the design and content, you create a strong base for a successful training. However, this is where most courses start failing. One of the reasons for this is the excess number of tools, strategies, models, and theories that you can select. Consequently, you can get deterred from the core design requirements and start to think bigger than what is required. If you slip at this stage of the course design, you are likely to:
- Develop a patchy course
- Have a scope creep
- Miss the planned budget and timeline
- Confuse the learners
To comprehend the significance of simplicity in design, pin-up this quote from Steve Jobs.
“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” ~ Steve Jobs
As designers, we have a tendency to add as much razzmatazz to our work as we can. Our aim is to to meet the client needs and create output that is better than our previous piece of work. However, at times, this might not be what the customers or the learners need.
The customer could be initially happy with the course skin, appearance, beautiful interface, or ‘x’ number of branched scenarios and quizzes, but the training may not be effective. Consequently, as course designers, you are always walking a lean bridge where the bridge is supported by the customer’s needs and its path is the training objectives. If you slip, you are likely to flow with the strong currents of tools, scenarios, skins, and all the razzmatazz.
Now, to consistently stay on the bridge: Keep a Simple Layout
Keeping a simple layout for the slides helps in avoiding distractions for the learners. It conveys the message and leaves an impact. For example, consider the following two slides. Both the slides explain an implementation process, but differ in their impact.
This tip is shared in all books discussing presentation techniques and slideware design. Whether you are designing an self-paced training or a classroom training, too much content in the slideware is disappointing (lullaby) for the learners. For instance, think about any presentation that you have attended. Do you recall yourself reading everything on the slides used by the presenter? Or, did you just listen to the presenter and occasionally peep at the slides?
If the presentation was good, I am sure you’d have preferred to listen to the presenter and occasionally review the slides.
Your customers and learners are similar to you and crave for a good presentation. They want to learn. So, keep the content presentation tight, concise, and avoid filling course screens with text.
Focus on the Objectives
Stay focused on the objectives and the training needs and design strategies that will help you in achieving the learning objectives and meet the customer needs. At times it is okay to be not so “cool”.
I must admit that the rapid authoring tools have come a long way and provide us great flexibility in course design. However, you must learn the tools to leverage its capabilities. In addition, if you understand the capabilities of various tools in the market, you will be able to choose the right solution for a particular training.
Adding every ‘cool’ feature or template to a course will not ensure alignment with training objectives. Ensure that the design decisions are consistent,required, and feasible to implement in your current project. You need to understand, analyze, and then select a strategy based on your experience. It’s easy to copy an award-winning course strategy or template in your training. However, if that’s not consistent, required, or feasible, the award-winning feature will be an ugly patch in the course.