Monday, August 29, 2016

20 ways to make your e-learning totally suck

A lot of e-learning sucks. It’s like wearing a suit or coat that’s two sizes too small – all a bit cramped and makes you feel uncomfortable. Here’s a selection of 20 things that drive me CRAZY when doing e-learning.
1. Learning objectives – don’t bore me with your teacher and trainer-speak up front. I’m bored already and we haven’t even started. More here.
2. Long introductions – history of,…background to… here’s your tutor… No, give it to me straight, stop padding things out. More here.
3. Cartoons – cartoon style imagery is for kids. I don’t watch cartoons on TV, so don’t give me them when I’m learning - they’re so damn condescending.
4. Perfect people – I know this is about management but I don’t need stock pictures of perfect people in perfect suits with perfect teeth and hair – believe me, real offices don’t look like that.
5. Text-graphic, text-graphic – Lord Privy Seal – picture of Lord, Picture of toilet, picture of seal. Stop just selecting a lazy image for every bit of text, page by page. More here.
6. Text and audio at same time – stop – I can’t do both at the same time. Give me images with narration or text only – not narration and text at the same time – it makes my head hurt.
7. Too much text – I don’t want all of this legal stuff, detail, overlong stories. I’m never going to remember all of this, so cut it until it bleeds, then cut it some more.
8. Over-engineered effects – too much distracting movement, effects and buzz makes my head spin – when I learn, less is more.
9. Long video sequences – OK you’ve hired a video guy and the academic wants to prattle on a bit but I’m bored after 5 minutes and learning precisely nothing. Keep it short. Less is more. More here.
10. Tinny audio – you sound as though you’ve recorded this in a tin shed. Get a proper mike and record in a proper environment. More here.
11. Sound effects – you may think it’s fun but those beeps for correct answers and bongs for wrong answers are doing my head in! More here.
12. Music – who  told you that background music aids learning – it doesn’t  - get rid of it. More here.
13. Multiple choice questions that simply take a noun from the text and ask me to select it from a list. In real life I never select answers from lists. It’s a test of recognition, not knowing. More here.
14. Stupid options in multiple-choice questions – don’t do it, I’m not a dumb-ass, treat me like an adult.
15. False buttons – don’t make me click on something that looks like it’s interactive when it’s not. That annoys the hell out of me. More here.
16. Opaque icons – your graphic artist may think he/she is an ‘artist’ but I haven’t a clue what that icon means. More here.
17. Gamification – I’m not one of Pavlov’s dogs, so don’t make me collect coins, chase rubies or do silly gamey things in order to learn – I’m not 12. (Note that I'm all for deep gamification.) More DOs & DON'Ts here.
18. Learning styles – what are you talking about - they don’t exist. Let me repeat – they don’t exist.
19. Mindful – let’s stop and be mindful – no that’s a mindless fad and I have a mind that wants to learn– move on.
20. Chat – so you’ve got a chat box for ‘social’ learning, as you believe in social constructivism. Forget that Vygotsky shit – chat is usually boring, long winded and irrelevant.
Conclusion
Note that I'm not against all of these things, especially gamification and collaboration. I'm just against simplisitc implremntations that learners don;t like. I could have gone on with another 400 DOs and DON’Ts but they’re all listed, explained and categorised here if you want to check out more.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Airlie said...

Got a list of specific dos? Because if I don't do all* these don'ts, there's basically not much that's engaging left...

(*not that I'd ever do ALL of them in one module, but some, yeah I would! Particularly depending on my audience - some folks love cartoons, music, faster-pace graphics and gamification and respond to it with great assessment results.)

7:10 AM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

The fuller list of 250 is in more detail. I'm not againts gamification - just the childish stuff. Music has its place but not as general background. Cartoon approach for kids - all rules there to be broken but stand by these as being largely destructive. More importantly, the research shows that they inhibit learning.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Matt Jenner said...

The fuller list has 260 (now 280?), but whatever - keep listing things :)

Can't help but feel you might've written this because something has tipped you over the edge and made you go 'ARGH I'm publishing another list, I'm fed up with X, Y & Z'!). It reads with a rushed sense of anger in the post - but it's your blog and we enjoy reading it, so go crazy.

But I must disagree a bit - some are on the edge of sucking. For example Kurzgesagt's animations are not too distant to cartoons but they convey their message beautifully and with skill. If anything I hope they inspire other authors and it trickles into their 'creative process' - but who knows...

11:41 AM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

Hi Matt The fuller articles on my website are more nuanced. None of these tips are absolute - music, animation, gamification etc. It's just that some of teh stuff I'm seeing is getting worse. Designers and companeis don;t seem to be reading hte research around learning and use of media - it's been around for decades and there's lots of it. Media rich is not mind rich. As you say, it's a blog - I sometimes feel like letting rip!

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Jay Thomas said...

"don;t seem to be reading the research around learning and use of media - it's been around for decades and there's lots of it."

Any recommendations of key research etc that's worth reading? I'm just starting out with all this.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Donald Clark said...

Lot's here http://planblearning.com/articles/online-learning-design/ and here http://planblearning.com/articles/online-theorists/ and here http://planblearning.com/articles/learning-theorists/

2:40 PM  

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