Content Development Tip #1 – Performance shapes content

We’ve completed our blog series about good learning design, and, after some conversations with our clients and ourselves, have decided to embark on a new series, called ‘What Good Content Looks Like’. Writing explanatory content that conveys your subject matter concisely is both an art and science. It’s the starting point for any training initiative. Whether you’re a subject matter expert or an instructional designer, this series is meant to help you set a great foundation for any learning material that you need to develop.

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Learning Design Tip #11 – Evaluate and learn

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Evaluation is so much more than a questionnaire at the end of the learning product!

The purpose of evaluation is to provide information to either inform further developments of the learning materials (formative evaluation) or provide judgement on the effectiveness of the learning materials (summative evaluation). Often people think of evaluation as being the final step in the development process, but in fact, it should be considered from the outset.

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Learning Design Tip #10 – Use the right tool

Learning designers have a myriad of tools at their fingertips. Choosing the best one for a project is a complex process. There is no one best way. For every project, designers need to have a thorough understanding of the business drivers, desired performance outcomes, technological constraints, user preferences, budget, timeframes, learning environment and content.

With all of those things in mind, choosing the right tool for the job is as important as the job itself.

A lengthy e-learning module isn’t always going to be the best design solution. Creating blended learning solutions and selecting the most appropriate learning technologies and design strategies to achieve the project goals will position you as a learning designer rather than just an order taker. Choosing the right tool starts well before you actually choose your tool. Here’s how the easyA team go about it.

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Learning Design Tip #9 – Be innovative

The only constant in the world … is change. Innovation is both a driver of change, and a response to it. It’s an important skill and mindset for any learning designer. It’s not about chasing the latest shiny new toy, or constantly pushing the boundaries on risky projects. It is about identifying emerging trends and matching them with appropriate projects. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the future of work requires that innovation becomes mainstream.

‘But I’m not innovative!’ Then learn! Here’s how the easyA team stay innovative:

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Learning Design Tip #8 – Little details matter

You wouldnt think that such small things could have such a big impact Even minor punctuation and speling errors – or those irritating ones wear you used the same sounding word but its a different spelling — inconsistencies in use of symbols – they all add up to you’re learning outcomes crumbling under the weight of all that extra cognitive load, not to mention unhappy clients.

We’ve all read it in a job ad – ‘attention to detail required’. It may not be an exciting thing to list on your resume, but it is important.

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Learning Design Tip #7 – Choose a metaphor

Metaphor, simile, analogy, antithesis, hyperbole. Whatever you call them (and they are different), the use of them can improve the effectiveness of your learning designs. They can be used in a range of ways from simply visualising an idea to improve recall, to conceptualising content in a visual structure to enhance encoding and retention, to using phrasing that evokes an emotional response that strengthens engagement.

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Learning Design Tip #6 – Be consistent in design

From coloured chalk, to whiteboards, to overhead projectors, to PowerPoint, to Prezi, to Storyline, to 360 VR – the desire for novelty (rightly fuelled by a goal of increasing engagement) in learning design has always been with us. The design options only ever increase with time as every tool tries to outdo the predecessors and competitors with what it offers. However, novelty, and shiny new ways of presenting content can distract from the process of learning that content. The challenge for designers is to ensure that what’s possible serves us, rather than rules us.

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Learning Design Tip #5 – Use stories and humour

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a Jedi and a learning designer walk into a bar …

Nothing captures attention like a good story. Storytelling is our native language, our way of connecting the dots, of learning ideas, of communicating and engaging. Stories and humour tap into our emotions and the feel-good endorphins that go with them, creating a positive affective learning environment, strengthening understanding and boosting memory.

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Learning Design Tip #3 – Evidence, not just trends

It’s tempting at this time of year to make predictions about the future. The wind down to the holiday season often frees up some time to reflect on the year just passed, and new year resolutions have us considering future action and improvements.

Listicles (lists dressed up as articles) abound of what’s going to be hot, what’s trending, what’s key, what’s a priority, what’s emerging, what’s new, what’s a word in the thesaurus that someone else hasn’t used yet? Some of them are just (sometimes informed) opinions, others use wide-reaching surveys and occasionally there’s some research behind them. If you start searching, it won’t take you long to complete the bingo sheet:

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