Are Your Font Choices Hosing Your Course?

wacky fonts in e-learning

One of my pet peeves is when courses use too many font types. Most of the time it comes from a lack of forethought about how and when to use certain fonts. Some people like to change up the fonts to make the course more visually interesting. This is a noble goal but perhaps not the best reason.

An interesting font will not make the course more interesting. And it’s possible that the font distracts from the content.

Be Intentional

Understand why you’re using the font you’re using.

The font not only displays the text to read, but it also conveys meaning about the type of content. A comic font may imply the content is lighter or part of a conversation. While a handwritten font may imply less formal or organic content.

Keep it simple.

I usually recommend limiting the course to two or three fonts, at the most. Often you can find a single font family that has enough variety to provide options but still maintain visual cohesions as in the example below. The font is Roboto, but there are multiple styles of that font family to offer variation that still allow the course to look professional.

font family for e-learning

What are you displaying?

Look at the image below. How many variations are there for the onscreen text? Title, subtitle, question header, and body text.

font styles for e-learning

When you create onscreen text, the text may represent everything from titles to perhaps a quick point of emphasis. They need to look different to show a distinction between the type of content. But how much is too much? Here are a few key text considerations:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Body font
  • Emphasis: this could be the body font bolded or recolored

You could use one font for all and just vary how it’s used. Or have one font for each. The key point is that you are deliberate and intentional about the text you place onscreen and how you want it to appear.

Understand what you need to display and why. Then be deliberate about the fonts used. Your courses will look more professional.


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3 Things to Know When Getting Started with E-Learning

getting started with e-learning

I was reviewing some older presentations I found a slide regarding the topic of getting started with e-learning. On the slide I offered three helpful tips when getting started that still hold true today.

An E-Learning Course is Different from a Classroom Session

A challenge a lot of new e-learning developers have is that they start with existing content from classroom training. This is usually in PowerPoint; and it’s easy enough to import a PowerPoint slide into an e-learning application, add a quiz, and call it good.

This is fine for some compliance training or annual refresher content because they tend to be less about “learning” and more about sharing information. But it’s not ideal.

The better strategy is to craft a learning experience that’s different than the classroom experience. Focus on the objectives and activities required to demonstrate understanding. That will help build courses less about a content dump and more about meeting measurable objectives.

Here’s a good book that does a great job walking through a backwards course design where you focus on the learning experience and not just the content.

E-Learning is Mostly a Visual Medium

Accessibility is a primary consideration when building a course, but outside of that, the e-learning course is mostly visual. Make the investment to learn more about how to structure the onscreen content properly and the how to communicate in a visual medium.

Two good books: The Non-Designer’s Design Book to learn more about basic design and Slideology to learn more about visual communication. And while you’re at it, learn to support what you do visually with alt-text and other accessibility considerations.

You’re Only as Good as What You Know About the Software

If all you know is the basics, all you’ll be able to build is basic courses. The truth is that it takes time to learn to use software. You need to make an investment to learn how to really use the tools. Here’s why:

  • It speeds up your production as you become more efficient. This saves time and lets you spend your energy elsewhere.
  • You’ll learn advanced skills that let you problem solve. The software gives you specific features, but as you gain more advanced skills, you’ll produce unique ways to use the features. But you need to know how the features work to start.
  • You’ll design more engaging and effective e-learning. For example, if you don’t know how to use variables, you severely limit what you can do. But once you understand how that feature works, you’ll build all sorts of different courses and interactive experiences.

One of the best ways to learn is to build something. This can be a challenge at work where you may have some project constraints and build the same courses over and over again.

That’s why I highly recommend the weekly e-learning challenges. They’re designed to get you to think about some new idea and how you’d build it. They’re not intended to be fancy or big courses. You can build something simple or something elaborate, that’s up to you. The main thing is you’re spending time in the tools applying your creative juices. And you get to see some cool examples from others in the community.

If you don’t do the challenges, make it a goal to do one per quarter. And at a minimum, check out what others build every week. You’ll get some neat ideas for your own courses.

There you go, three simple tips to help you get moving in the right direction.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

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Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out
and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

3 Ways to Make Static Content Interactive

e-learning interactions

In a recent workshop on creating interactions, we looked at ways to take a single image and create interactive content. It’s a good practice activity because many of us aren’t graphic designers so it helps us see different ways to use stock imagery that doesn’t require a lot of editing. And it gets us to think about interactive content in ways we may not initially consider.

The general idea is to find a single image that you can use for an interaction. A few things I look for:

  • Visually interesting. I’m not a graphics designer and design fashion changes every few years. I try to find images that feel new and modern.
  • Content areas. Since I’m using a single image and it’s the unifying graphic, I look for places to add content. Sometimes it does require placing a box or some other container shape over the image, but I try to find open space in the image that works for content. In the three examples below, the computer has a good content area, the teens illustration has a middle section that is empty, and for the business collage I created a side panel.
  • Visual context. Try to find images that offer visual context so it fits the context of the course content. Generic things like offices and desks work great.

Here are three examples that we’ve covered in the past that demonstrate this idea of using a single image with some interactive elements.

Exploratory E-learning Interaction

zoom office e-learning interaction

Click here to view the demo interaction.

In this example, a single image provides some office-like context. This could be used as an exploratory interaction, when clicking on objects exposes additional content. Ask a question. Looks for clues to answer them.

Original post: Create an Interactive Course Using a Single Image includes free download.

Meet the Team E-Learning Interaction

meet team e-learning interaction

Click here to view the demo interaction.

The original example was used to highlight counting clicks with variables. However, the single image could be used to click on a character to glean more content such as a “meet the team” activity. The center area is a perfect place to display content.

Original post: E-Learning Tutorial – Easy Way to Make an Image Interactive

Business Collage E-Learning Interaction

business e-learning interaction

Click here to view the demo interaction.

I like these types of collage images because there are plenty of those types of images to be found. The original was built in PowerPoint. The demo above was rebuilt in Storyline. Here’s a download with both files if you want to deconstruct them.

Original post: Here’s a Simple Way to Convert Your Course to an Interactive Story

Hopefully, this gives you some inspiration. If you want a good starting point, do an image search for collages and you’ll find some interesting ideas.


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

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Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out
and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

Why Do E-Learning Courses Need a Company Brand?

e-learning branding

When I worked at this one place, we could only use a single PowerPoint slide for any presentation or anytime we created content in PowerPoint. There was nothing particularly special about the slide other than the fact it was the approved slide because it had the company logo and colors plastered all over it.

This became an issue when we transitioned to one of the early rapid e-learning applications. Since the courses started in PowerPoint, the branding was on every slide and took up limited screen space that we needed to actually teach people.

However, what we lacked in a great learning experience was made up covered by the fact that all employees knew where they worked.

A constant challenge with courses is how to deal with the organization’s visual identity and various branding requirements which usually have little to do with learning.

So, here are a few questions I’d like to pose for discussion:

  • Do you really need to brand your courses?
  • How does it contribute to the learning experience?
  • Does it help meet any learning objectives?
  • If there was no branding requirement, how would it change the course?
  • Should it be a requirement that even in live training sessions, the marketing team inserts a sign twirler who screams out the name of the company every few minutes?

I’ve built plenty of courses over the years and have spent more than enough hours with clients and marketing team. So, I know many of the reasons we have for adding the brand content to our courses. I just wonder if it really matters and what value it adds.

What do you think?


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out
and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

Things to Consider When Adding Multimedia to E-Learning Projects

multimedia

E-learning courses are mostly screens of content made up of media: text, shapes, illustrations, pictures, and video.

Adding those things to your course is simple, usually just a matter of inserting said media onto the screen. However, building a cohesive course is more than just inserting stuff on a screen. There are other considerations.

Design the Look of the E-Learning Course

What’s on a screen?

  • Fonts. They are more than the text you read; they’re also a graphic. Which fonts are you using in your course? Are they contextually aligned with your content?
  • Shapes. Shapes can have straight edges or rounded; they can have outlines or not. The shape can represent something elegant or informal.
  • Illustrations. There are all sorts of illustrative styles. One popular style today is the corporate Memphis look. Of course, there are many designers who find it to be barren.

And this brings us to a key consideration when working with multimedia: the bullet points above speak to some visual design requirements. Who will design what you need? What is the correct imagery and use of fonts and desired color schemes?

A challenge for many e-learning developers: having ideas about what you want and executing on those ideas is not the same. I see lots of good courses that are not designed well. The cause is usually that the e-learning developer lacks the technical skill to construct the right media.

Create Audio and Video Resources

There are similar considerations for other multimedia such audio and video.

Recording audio is easy and straightforward in most of the authoring tools. However, they don’t tend to have a lot of sophistication when it comes to editing or managing the audio.

For simple audio, recording from the authoring tool is fine. But for longer audio, there are considerations about how to record, who will record it, and how it’s all managed.

You can do it all in-house or DIY, but you do get what you pay for. I figure non-professional talent gives you presentation quality audio. It’s inexpensive, gets the job done, yet isn’t going to be perfect. But it’s not the same as pro-quality narration.

The good thing today is that there are many voice over artists and talent services where getting professional audio at a reasonable cost is viable.

Video is another one of those tricky issues. Today’s smart phones have better capabilities than I had doing professional video work 25 years ago. It’s easy to shoot video and edit it. But there is a significant difference between a DIY video and getting something done professionally. Or at a minimum, spending time on edits to get things to look right and not drag on.

The big question for any of the course’s multimedia is who is going to determine and design what you need? And then who is going to produce the media?

I throw this out because the course will look like something. And you’ll put something on the screen. And there’s a cost associated with it. Doing it yourself may cost less money but may impact the quality of what you produce.

Thus, at the beginning of the project time needs to be spent on the media requirements and production considerations. And then determine if there needs to be a budget to accommodate those requirements.

How do you determine those things when you start an e-learning project?


Download the fully revised, free 63-page ebook: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro 

Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out
and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

 

7 Types Of eLearning Templates EVERY eLearning Pro Should Have In Their Personal Library

Some graphic designers worry that templates destroy originality and spawn copy-cat products. Is it possible to use them as an edge in eLearning course development? And which are the must-haves for your personal eLearning library?

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.