Dave Goodman is with SoftAssist in Philadelphia. His goal isn’t necessarily to share with us what we’re doing wrong, but those common habits we all do without realize that could be done differently or better.

  1. Hey You! — Do you capture the learner’s attention right at the beginning? Or is it just another boring welcome message? If you fail to grab the learner in the initial stages, you never will. In the first 7-10 seconds, the learner will decide if they’re interested or bored. Use that time wisely.
  2. Perspective — Use the white space to focus and capture attention. Think outside the box when designing a course or how to grab their attention. Get creative! Ex: Build a Tiffany’s sales training course from the perspective of the diamond.
  3. Hyperactive or Hyperlink — Determine the value of the information and how it is organized/presented. Too many hyperlinks becomes hyperactive.
  4. Dispassionate…Non-emotional…No fun — Who wants to take a course that is bland or uninteresting? Find new ways to present the information or change the perspective. The more emotional you can make the training, the higher the acceptance level. (Narrative psychology) Tell a story and you’ll have better luck conveying the message.
  5. Too structured — Break up the flow; 17-20 minutes of the same pattern will lead to boredom. Switch gears and present something differently.
  6. Inconsistency in design and layout — “CLICK NEXT TO CONTINUE” vs. “Click NEXT to continue” Determine navigation and layout prior to designing the course. Make certain that buttons are uniform and consistent (Home, Exit, Back, etc.). Media controls and narration are an issue for many users; how is the media intended to enhance the content? Who does the quality control and who completes the edits? QC should be 15% of your total effort.
  7. Screen real estate — Real estate can often make or break a course. Too much information will overload the learner. Too little information and the learner will become bored. Proper real estate usage can focus attention for emphasis. A “Z” layout allows for equal, even use of space. Important/critical information should appear in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  8. No feedback after the course is launched — All too often, we do not revisit learners weeks or months after a course has completed to see how a learner would liked to have seen something different or if the information delivered was actually retained. What part of a learning event has the greatest payback for a course? After the course.
  9. Correct and incorrect assessments — Assessments are often misused or written poorly. Use games, place them throughout the course, design them creatively, etc.


From a personal perspective, I heard a great line yesterday from another conference attendee:

Instructional designers get a degree in common sense.

I laugh, but it is somewhat true. Perhaps I should take solace in the knowledge that my degrees are actually in education. I just picked up ID along the way. Still, I am amazed at how many people do not grasp good ID principles. Nothing that Mr. Goodman shared with us is earth shattering. However, they are things that we really do need to watch when designing learning, and most especially eLearning.