No fine clothes can hide the clown… Apparently

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Anyone who tries to educate employees with a help of e-learning solutions may come across, at least, several problems. One of the key points in this context is the course design. Let’s take a closer look at this issue.

No matter how good the content is – it is completely ineffective if the course design has no proper realization. So, how to dress up the e-learning course in order to make it not only visually attractive, but also efficient according to educational point of view?

There are the two essential pillars on which the successful course design is based. The first one is the compliance with the educational goals. The second one can be described as a sense of proportion. There would be no proper design in case you miss at least one of these key points. This seems obvious but many people often forget about it.

The compliance with the educational goals

Any visual realization of the course concept should be subjected to the educational goals that are expected to be achieved after the course completion. If customers want their managers to be the greatest sales agents in the world, there is no need to force them to take any actions they are not supposed to, such as camping in the woods etc. The virtual shop where users can improve their marketing skills would be much more efficient.

The sense of proportion

The main purpose of the course design is to ensure a positive impact on users’ perception. However, more is not always better: bright material attracts user’s attention. On the one hand that is extremely useful for solving educational tasks, but on the other hand it distracts from the content. Thus, it looks cool but useless.

Therefore, the course design should be relevant enough in order to engage in training activities, to inspire users' creativity and to provide better mastering of the educational material. Briefly, it can be described as a discreet elegance: user should keep in mind the main purpose of the e-learning course, analyzing its theoretical structure.

Thus, to protect the pillars from destruction, the creative mind of a course designer should fit perfectly into the overall composition. In this regard, to ensure the educational quality of the e-learning course, the following steps should be taken:

  • initial analysis of the target audience
  • definition of the educational objectives and goals
  • detailed study of the course material
  • selection of the e-learning tools
  • creation of content
  • creation of graphic design
  • e-course narration
  • e-course development

Please note: even the most pleasant result may need to be improved after course testing.

The Style

The educational goals are defined and the middle ground is prevailed, but eventually the course is failed. Well, it happens. If you dig deeper, you will find another essential element of the e-course development – the style. There are many styles in the arsenal of a modern graphic designer, but you should be aware that not every style fits the e-course content. We know many cases when a specific design is simply not appropriate (for example, legal documents and cartoons are not relevant at all). Moreover, each e-course style requires a specific methodological approach.

Minimalism with infographic elements holds a strong position in the e-learning field. If you choose this style, you e-course can be both bright and discreet. High quality photos and beautifully designed text help e-course developers to simplify even the most complex material, making it clear and visually attractive. If there are many charts and diagrams, this type of design helps you to combine them into coherent visual blocks.

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Another highly demanded design style is 3D-graphics – a set of procedures and techniques for creating various illustrations. The e-course developers have a lot of creative space because there are no any specific restrictions as in a previous method. You can use the three-dimensional objects, vector and photo characters, which would be more vivid and attractive with some infographic inclusions.

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There are many e-course topics, which can be illustrated with a help of such design techniques as retro, vintage or grunge. The first two of these styles are easily recognizable due to the thematic images, the muted tones, the proper textures and various graphic effects that give a vintage look to the whole slide objects. These styles recreate the atmosphere of the ancient times and effectively represent the main idea of various projects. It could be some training courses for catering business, travel companies, photo studios and much more. The distinctive feature of the grunge style is a creative negligence. All these spots, abrasions and dark palettes contain some allusions to freedom. Please, be aware: the usage of these styles requires caution – it is extremely necessary to keep sense of proportion.

Conservative style with its restrained interface is something completely different: the texts in such courses are designed rather simply, but visually attractive slides provide better mastering of the educational material in accordance with the pedagogical tasks. Such courses help users catch the main idea quickly and have no excesses at all.

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One of the most criticized styles today is skeuomorph, which was one of the most popular design techniques several years ago. It is quite reasonable according to user-friendly interface – each element is accurately detailed, including substrate and buttons. There is no need to look for the undertones. The distinctive feature of the skeuomorph is the simulation of the real-life objects.

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Despite the fact that many e-course developers criticize skeuomorph for a poor creativity, it has no bad effect on its use. In this case, the popularity is a matter of tendentiousness, which is not harmful at all.

If the style corresponds to the design task, you’ll get bright and effective e-course. However, let’s go back to the main thesis which we’ve put in the title. Please, note: even the coolest design will not save the course with poor content. Therefore, always keep in mind the leading role of what you are going to present.

In other words, under the bright cloth there should be something else. Good luck!

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