I don’t know about you, but when I need to take an online course I cross my fingers and hope it’s short and interesting. Being presented content is just that… a presentation of information. So how do we better focus information on screen? Here are two tips:

Use Relating Images

stapler_info1We have all been there, we take a course on, for instance, loading a stapler with new staples. We might learn that we need to open the magazine, pull back on the follow block and follow spring, place new staples, and so on (I will spare you all the details). We take the assessment that asks what we pull back on before adding staples (Answer: follow block and follow spring of course!), and we pass with flying colors. We feel like we know quite well how to add staples and we are all set to add new staples to a real stapler… quite exciting. We get to our new offices and realize that we have no clue what a stapler looks like. We don’t know what a follow block or magazine looks like. We don’t even know what staples look like. We thought we were prepared but we never had the ability to visualize ourselves actually performing the tasks. For the record, the item to the right is a stapler with some quick labels thrown on for good measure. Of course this is an example. Most of us know what a stapler is, but our learning module might be about filling out a specific form, driving a reach truck, using a 5mm surgical cut guide, or punching in F5 on a IR scanner.  I certainly can’t picture any of this. Our brains are great at making assumptions and trying to fill in the visual gaps, but in a learning environment, that only does enough to boost our confidence. Finding a few relating images will go a long way to providing a better learning experience.

Limit Unneeded Text

Your course is not a book (I don’t think). So don’t write one. Keep it simple. If it makes sense, you can use voice over narration to explain concepts and process details while relating images and text become the visual focus.With less text on screen there is more screen real estate for images, title information, key steps, phrases, terms, important notes or whatever else can connect the concept to the audience. When developing what goes on screen, try and think about how the marketing (print or television commercial) or television documentary world makes information engaging and comprehensible. They simplify it and get to the point.