Practice and Sharing: The Keys to Success
These were the two messages that stood out over three days in Sydney at last year’s iDesignX Australian Instructional Design Conference (21st March) sponsored by B Online Learning & Articulate and the eLearning Design Workshops with Tom Kuhlmann and David Anderson (22nd and 23rd March). I was fortunate to attend all the sessions and for me it was a dream come true to not only be in the same room as Tom and David but to hear and learn directly from them (I also got to meet them which was an incredible experience and a real highlight too).
As someone with a keen interest in learning generally, but eLearning in particular, I’m always looking to other experienced people in the learning field to find out how I can improve my own skills and knowledge. While it would be great if there was a magic pill you could swallow and voila! you’d be transformed into an eLearning whizz, the reality is that when you look at anyone who is successful in their field, the one thing they have in common is a commitment to developing their skills over a period of time. Tom and David are no exception to this. Over the years they have worked on many projects but they also make time to experiment and try new things. The speakers at iDesignX also showed that they have put in a lot of effort over the years to get to where they are today.
Tom and David are role models when it comes to sharing. Their jobs at Articulate along with their travel schedule must keep them extremely busy. However, they are extremely generous with their time and have a great willingness share what they know, provide advice and help anyone who needs it. It’s something all learning professionals can learn from and do more of.
So, in the interests of sharing, here’s firstly what I took away from iDesignX:
“Instructional design is about crafting the appropriate learning experience. We need to reframe content so that it’s meaningful and relevant. Then we need to give learners something to think about and have them make decisions.” Tom Kuhlmann – VP Community at Articulate
“Tips when using virtual training: prepare and support participants, consider cognitive load, design for different levels of engagement, have learners interact often, support facilitators, pilot the training and test, test, test, test.” Brenda Smith – Medibank Health
“When using video in learning experiences, authenticity is very important.” Mark Parry – Parryville Media
“Clean and balance (in graphic design) creates stability and can direct learner focus.” Minh Nguyen – DEEWR “Using curation for learning design > collect, filter, evaluate, arrange, present, distribute.” Anne Bartlett-Bragg – Ripple Effect Group
“Before you gamify your eLearning course, make sure it meets the learning objectives.” Ruth McElhone – B Online Learning
“Learning experiences should be meaningful, memorable and motivating.” Ruth McElhone – B Online Learning
“Using video for manual or process tasks shows the correct way to do something.” Tony Nye – Australian Red Cross Blood Service
“Pictures clarify words and stories add context to content.” Blair Rorani – Ever Learning
“What makes an industry pro? Experience; Skills (practice your craft); Authority and Luck.” Tom Kuhlmann – VP Community at Articulate
“Luck is where opportunity and preparation meet.” Tom Kuhlmann – VP Community at Articulate
“You need to be proactive and look for opportunities. Sharing expertise creates opportunities.” Tom Kuhlmann – VP Community at Articulate
And from the workshops with Tom and David:
On designing an eLearning course:
- What content needs to be in the course?
- What is the right look and feel?
- What is the learner supposed to do?
Be intentional, stick with a consistent design and don’t settle for defaults (colours, fonts etc.)
On eLearning makeovers:
Review the five common components of eLearning courses:
- Text – should be from the same font family
- Elements – the goal is unity not uniformity
- Colours – use colour for contrast and emphasis
- Background – it should contribute to the visual and not dominate
- People – if you use characters maintain unity
Interactivity connects the user to content. There are two types of interactivity:
- Touch – the learner interacts with the screen (by clicking, dragging or hovering)
- Decision – the learner interacts with the content.
On Learning Objectives:
When thinking about learning objectives, ask yourself:
- Who is the learner?
- What is the situation?
- What do you want them to do?
- How can they prove it?
On building interactive eLearning:
- Know your tools – don’t build clunky courses
- Create relevant content
- Use stories for learning especially if there’s a lot of content
- Remember the 3 C’s:
- Challenge the learner
- Give them choices
- Have consequences for decisions
There were at least a couple of hundred people at the conference and about 80 people each day at the workshops. If everyone incorporates just one or two of the things they learned into their eLearning courses the quality would certainly improve. But if everyone also shared what they’ve learned with others in the field, it would help to improve even more courses and contribute to building a strong community of learning professionals!
All in all it was a great three days of learning from the best in the field and also chance to meet lots of people who I’d only known via Twitter and make the physical connection. Let’s follow Tom and David’s example by practicing our skills and sharing what we know so that we can develop ourselves as well as others.
Footnote: This post originally appeared on my old blog site “Learning Snippets” and the B Online Learning blog in 2014.