Here’s a scenario that is quite familiar to learners and designers alike; John, an employee in XYZ corporation, was asked to take an eLearning course as part of the company’s training requirements. John sat down enthusiastically in front of the computer and said to himself, “This must be fun.” He clicked the launch button of the course and started his training. Five minutes into the course, John went spiraling down into confusion with the amount of information that was being thrown on him and was frustrated and disappointed. John clicked the close button and went on to do his work.
Such a scenario is the result of providing too much information for the learner to absorb in an eLearning course. However, this can be avoided in three simple ways.
1. Have a clear screen title – Quite often, the first title on the screen is called Introduction. Such “plain” titles don’t serve any learning purpose. They just act as a menu to tell the learners where they are in the course.
A good screen tittle makes the learner think. For instance, instead of having a mundane title such as ‘Benefits of Project Planning,’ you can have a more innovative title such as ‘Three Ways Project Planning Can Revolutionize Your Business.’
Let’s take a look at an example.
Such small changes go a long way in helping learners grasp important points.
2. Get Rid of Pointless Content – It is a hard task to reduce content during the development of your course. However, it is necessary to do so to avoid cognitive overload. Small, simple steps such as removing repetitive content that appears frequently in your course adds value to it. Usually, certain content is repeated to emphasize its importance. But, this leaves learners overwhelmed and confused.
Identify what is important and remove what is not; by doing so, you reduce the overload on the learner’s mind.
3. Provide Cues and Aids – When content is eliminated to make the screen crisp, the additional information can be provided as cues and job-aids or even as downloadable handouts. These resources can be used by the learner as he wishes without worrying about the overload. Cues can be hyperlinked videos or articles available on the Internet, and this acts as “extra” information for the learner. It is up to him to use this information or not.
Such open and additional resources can come in handy, when the learner needs to refer to any topic in the course.
These are the three ways to avoid death by overload. What other ways have you come across to avoid content overload in your eLearning course?