Simple is Better
I try to operate under a guiding principle in instructional design: simple is better. I sometimes get overruled by others on this principle for individual courses, but I have no problem standing up for it.
Lately, I’ve been surprised by how many e-Learning tools and templates use avatars, simulated voices, cartoon characters and other types of garish templates. I’m unsure of the reason and driving force behind this trend. As a consumer of e-Learning courses, I would be mildly offended that as an adult learner, I’m being asked to accept what I consider to be design for children. Perhaps, there is a misplaced design goal here of either trying to emulate the classroom or going overboard on Gagne’s first event of instruction: gain the learners’ attention. Whatever the reason, avatars, simulated voices, cartoon graphics, garish colors and complex interaction templates should be approached with the same caution that a diabetic approaches sugar.
Here are 5 reasons why I think simple is better:
- Adult learners want brief learning interventions
- The learning intervention should occur as close as possible (in both time and location) to the job task
- Good content and timely practice are plenty “sexy”
- “Flashy” design can confuse, minimize and/or detract from the instructional message
- The brain needs simplicity when forming new connections
Here are 5 questions I would ask before adding these flashy elements to a course:
- What instructional value is added by a talking character?
- Does a character need to walk on my learners’ screens?
- Do my learners work in an environment where audio-based learning is appropriate?
- Can my learners immediately understand an interaction without having to “learn” how to complete it?
- Have I tested my design choices with my target audience?
A little flash in an especially lengthy course can be helpful. However, when you have the option, simple is always better.
-Article written by AXIOM’s partner, Jim Hicks, and posted by AXIOM. This was originally posted on www.professioncube.com