The December Big Question on Learning Circuit asks what did you learn about learning in 2007′.
Well for quite sometime now, I have had this grudge against clients who pay more attention to the graphic presentation and images of an e-learning program than to its carefully structured and developed content. But, my learning curve in 2007 has shown a visible shift towards a more comprehensive understanding of graphic interface and how it enhances the learning experience.
It is common knowledge that a well thought out graphic interface creates an open and inviting atmosphere for the learner. An appropriate colour scheme ensures a harmonious result and reflects the organisation’s brand identity. Often a page becomes interactive just because its layout takes into account eye flow, attraction points and user experience. A balanced composition and adequate white/empty space allows the eyes to rest and provides clarity to the existing information. However, what I have realised recently is that apart from this general interface, even on individual screens an image does not only supplement, complement and represent the text on screen, but sometimes can completely replace the text.
Instances where a visual can completely replace text on screen include content related to processes and procedures. This kind of content usually involves different steps and levels. Each step or level, with its own inherent quality and activities, is complete in itself and also related to other levels. Mnemonics like flowcharts and graphs are appropriate for this kind of interrelatedness. Textually representing these processes might lead to confusion. A mind map is another useful visual representation tool. The diagrams can radially arrange words and ideas around a central key word involving a process or procedure. This helps the learner to structure and classify concepts, steps or levels.
Corporate learning programs are more often than not courses that the learners need to go through for official reasons. In spite of our carefully stated objectives, what really pulls the learners towards these programs is their official purpose or compulsion. With this perspective in mind, it is not surprising to see the learner’s attention turn to images and the general presentation of the course rather than the content. Thus, just like in advertisements, we need to attract the viewer’s attention and sustain it. Along with the instructional perspective, we also need to take a look at marketing the content in the most attractive manner. Maybe, it is time now to see certain commonalities between marketing collaterals and e-learning programs: and as the cliché goes images speak more than words.
(Ms. Bidisha Sinha Roy is Lead Instructional Designer at G-Cube)