Did you get stuck in an eLearning course, where you did not know how to proceed to the next screen? Did not understand what’s the next thing you need to do in the slide, and did not find the help button?
Some eLearning courses have bizarre navigational errors which need to be avoided. Let’s discuss such errors and see how to avoid/ correct them.
- Missing navigational assistance: Every course must have a navigational assistance page which explains all the navigational elements and their functions. A navigational page is of great help to learners who are new to eLearning and don’t know how to navigate. However, those who already know how to navigate can skip this page and move forward.
Tip: If you don’t want to add a separate screen for navigational assistance in the course, you may quickly mention that there is a ‘Help’ button available on the top of every page, and the learners can click it whenever they need navigational assistance.
- Inappropriate location of the ‘next’ button: I have seen many courses where the ‘Next’ button is placed on top or bottom left of the page. One should know where to place it in the course interface. It’s a best practice to place the ‘Next’ button on the bottom right of the page. This location is connected to the traditional method of study. After completing a page in a textbook, we turn it from the bottom right corner. Please note that some authoring tools have a fixed location for buttons (such as Articulate Presenter has at the bottom center of the page.) Also, note that this rule is not universally applicable. For example, most Arabic courses have ‘Next’ button on the bottom left.
Tip: To make the ‘Next’ button more prominent, when the page is 100% complete, you can highlight the button in some way (such as making it blink) or give an instruction ‘Click Next to continue’ just on top of it.
- Instructions not highlighted: I have observed that many instructional Designers give clear and precise instructions, but in the same color as the content / text. Highlighting an instruction in a different and prominent color is always better. Highlighted instructions make it very clear to learners ‘what to do next’.
Tip: Display the instruction on the screen at the particular moment when you want the learner to click and explore (in sync with the audio). And, place the instruction as close as possible to the interactive elements to make the learner’s life easy. You may also ‘bold’ the instruction.
- Learners don’t know where they are: We give a course map with the list of all topics in the course, and we expect the learners to complete one topic after the other and finally complete the course. But, keep them informed about their current location in the course. A menu displaying the topics should highlight the current topic and the page number to show the total number of pages and the number of pages completed. This will be of great help.
Tip: When the learners complete a page (interactive or static) and move to the next page, you can show a tick mark in front of that topic, indicating that it is completed.
- Missing home button: Some high-level scenario based courses give ‘lost in the dessert’ experience to the learners. This happens when a learner gets into a scenario one level after the other and is then unable to come out of the scenario when he wishes to. Such situations make the learner helpless and he exits the course (which they actually don’t want to). There must be a ‘Home’ button, always available to the learner, so that if he doesn’t wish to proceed with a high-level branching scenario, he can simply click it and get back to the main page.
Tip: Explain an activity and its navigational elements in advance to your learners, so that they have clear idea of what to click when they want to proceed or exit the activity.
These are a few bizarre navigational errors that will cost you the quality of your eLearning. Avoid them and develop online learning courses that are easy and clear for learners to navigate.