Best Practice UX Design for E-Learning

UX Design for E-Learning

By incorporating best practice UX design into your E-Learning, you can maximise information retention, learner engagement and learner enjoyment.

UX design specialists tend to know how people use technology but not necessarily how people learn. There are elements of UX design we’ll cover in this blog that are universal and some that apply specifically to E-Learning.

Why is UX design important?

Because of the clever way Apple’s user interfaces are designed, even a toddler who can’t yet read can pick up an iPad, find the game they want to play or take a photo. Apple do things in a way that just makes sense. From the way things are packed and unfold to how their products and software are designed, they create products which simplify processes for the end user and have their enjoyment in mind. That’s why they had a revenue of over 170 billion dollars in 2013. User experience matters.

We all want to create an E-Learning experience that is seamless and intuitive.

By applying our UX design for E-Learning tips, you can simplify processes and delight learners. They won’t have to ask questions about navigation and will be able to do what they want to do, when they want to do it.

To illustrate the importance of UX design in E-Learning, we will use the example of the Sensory Engagement Programme which we developed in partnership with four of the largest support and advocacy organisations for people with sight and hearing loss across the whole of Ireland. The resource aims to raise awareness among service providers of what it is like to be blind, partially sighted, deaf or hard of hearing and using every day services.

As the best designed user experiences are usually the easiest, it was imperative that the user experience on this project was as seamless as possible.

How do people read online?

The introductory page to the Sensory Engagement Programme.

The introductory page to the Sensory Engagement Programme.

  • Researchers from the Nielsen Norman Group undertook research tracking the eye movements of over 300 website users and discovered that people tend to read webpages in an F shape. The findings make an interesting read and the full report is available to download here.
  • In the above image, you can see the welcome page from the Sensory Engagement Programme. As you can see, we have taken the knowledge that online learners read in an F shape into consideration when laying out our content. This means that users are more likely to read the content and will understand what to expect from the rest of the E-Learning resource.
  • The commoditisation of written content in the digital age means that readers scan and spend less time reading than ever before. This means that content needs to make sense immediately, without further explanation. Clear headings, bullet points and concise, meaningful content will ensure that learners will read what you have to say.

UX Design and Flow

An example page from the Sensory Engagement Programme.

An example page from the Sensory Engagement Programme.

Have you considered what happens when learners don’t have a flow or pattern to follow? They simply stop reading.

When designing an E-Learning webpage, the following components are essential for a user interface that simplifies the learning process:

1)    A flow

2)    A call to action

3)    Very little text or else very scannable text

4)    Images that contribute to the information being presented

As you can see from this screenshot of the Sensory Engagement Programme mentioned earlier, we were able to create a flow by minimising the written content on the page and placing a focus on the video. By making the video and the call to action to watch it so prominent, it ensures that learners will prioritise this. The second most prominent flow happening on the page is the flow across the four tabs at the top which allow users to navigate their way through the E-Learning resource.

What happens when it all goes wrong?

As the folks at Icon Finder said, “A User Interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.”

Great UX design is not an additional bonus for an E-Learning programme. Without it, learners will get lost, frustrated, distracted and switch off.

When beginning to develop an E-Learning resource, we suggest sitting around a table with the web developers, designers and instructional designers involved. It’s important for everyone to understand what makes up the key learning content, the layout of content and plan how together you will be able to create an intuitive learner experience.

By incorporating wireframes and storyboarding into your development process and taking UX design into consideration, you can ensure from the get-go that the end user of your E-Learning programme has an experience that will achieve desired learning outcomes and keep them coming back for more.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

What makes a successful MOOC?

A number of multi-coloured hands reaching up to education icons.

MOOCs are the modern day marmite of the digital learning scene. We want to steer clear of all of the clichés that have already been postulated and stick to what we know best. We hope you’ll find our practical, realistic advice on delivering a successful MOOC beneficial as you make plans for your own online learning.

We think MOOCs are fantastic because they offer dramatic cost savings, a standardised level of training across large organisations and can allow people all over the world access to the leading academics in a subject.

There are three things intrinsic to a MOOC’s success:

  1. High levels of interactivity
  2. Best practice pedagogy
  3. Appropriate technology

Interactivity

Interactivity is essential in all forms and styles of learning. Learners grow and develop whenever content is delivered in a way that makes it memorable.

To inspire knowledge retention and stimulate thought amongst MOOC users, consider the following ideas:

  • Storytelling is being used across a broad spectrum of organisations because it captures the heart behind a lesson and delivers it in an entertaining way.
  • Problem-based learning can easily grab a learner’s imagination. Rather than completing a series of monotonous tick-box quizzes, learners are posed with real life problems faced by other individuals or organisations.
  • Gamification allows learners to apply knowledge and be rewarded as they progress.
  • Social learning allows a group of learners to come together to solve problems as well as give and receive encouragement. The creation of assignments to be posted on social forums creates conversation and stimulates thought amongst learners.
  • Progress tracking and instructor involvement encourages students by showing them how far they’ve come and allowing them to ask questions and receive advice when they get stuck.

Pedagogy

MOOCs present an opportunity to turn learning on its head. It is possible to design learning content in line with how the brain actually learns.

MOOCs are in a position to apply contemporary pedagogical principles and break free from the traditional and often ineffective styles of teaching that have crept their way into many organisations. By monitoring learner activity using big data, administrators can even test the effectiveness of different teaching styles.

In order to be truly successful, it is important that MOOCs do not simply copy dated models of learning from the past but are used as a forum to design new, better ways of learning. We face new challenges than ever before and require a new approach to learning.

Technology

If you’re able to successfully create a MOOC for your organisation, make sure you don’t fall at the last hurdle. When choosing an E-Learning provider, be sure to ask all of the right questions from the beginning. You’ll need to know what browsers will be able to support your E-Learning content, whether mobile devices will be supported, if the systems technology is up-to-date and whether it will require regular updates.

It’s really important to choose the right technology to support your learning goals so make a list of all the technical specifications you require before you begin to search for an E-Learning provider and you won’t have any regrets later.

Organisations all over the world are choosing to develop MOOCs because they offer possibilities and opportunities to engage with learners on a greater scale than ever before. MOOCs won’t work for everyone but if you have a restricted budget, a large learner audience to reach and are ready to adapt your learning content to make it more accessible, then a MOOC might just perfect for you.

Have you recently developed a MOOC? Please comment below and let us know what worked and didn’t work for you. Feel free to share this blog with others who you think may benefit from it. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.