How do you compete with the new PlayStation or the latest Xbox game is a question often asked of e-learning? The answer is it can’t. However good the graphics and interactivity, e-learning content will never attract a following like Fortnite. That’s because e-learning has a different job, its purpose isn’t to entertain, the clue is in the name, the focus is on learning.
Good e-learning starts with a why?
Good e-learning, to paraphrase Simon Sinek, ‘starts with a why?’. Why are we doing this? What problem is it trying to solve? What will people be able to do because of the learning? Understanding the purpose of a project is the best way to ensure the content meets user needs. There may be genius (sic) designers like Apple’s legendary Jonathan Ive, who ‘just knew’ the best solution, but most successful projects rely on the experience of experienced professionals who can draw on a wide range of potential options.
Impress your customers
Trying to ‘get down with the kids’ by adding gamification elements can backfire if not part of a coherent design. Gimmicks may attract the headlines, but they won’t aid learning or ensure that learners meet their objectives. Achieving the ‘long-term wow’, a term coined by designer Brandon Schauer, sounds a bit corny, but has a simple aim of achieving loyalty through systematically impressing your customers again and again. Schauer cites the example of Google maps, he started using it because it helped find a building in an unfamiliar place but continues to use it because it has accurate information on travel times and additional features such as real-time fastest routes and night-time view. It is a good customer experience, people use Google maps not because they are incentivised to do so, but because it is useful.
Great experiences encourage loyalty
Great experiences ensure users come back to e-learning voluntarily, part of this is providing reliable, up-to-date information written by trusted people. Another key element is balancing creative ideas with business constraints of time and money. Good e-learning design translates complex content into a simple coherent framework. You may not be rewarded with a jazzy new skin, bucks or coins, but the satisfaction instead of new knowledge, understanding or skills.
About the author
Lyndsey is a leading education specialist with 20 years experience in the public, private and third sector. She has worked in learning design for organisations such as the BBC, Manchester Metropolitan University, PFEG (now known as ‘Young Money’), a City Learning Centre in Manchester, RM Education & Plato Learning.
Now a freelancer with her own company, Digital Ed Ltd, Lyndsey advises organisations like e-Learning for Healthcare on e-learning design and has recently worked as an instructional designer with the College of Radiographers, the College of Emergency Medicine and the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health. Lyndsey is a long-term associate and friend of iflourish.