Why UX Design is a Vital Aspect of eLearning

There are fundamental differences between User Experience (UX) and elearning – yet a sound understanding of UX design can really enhance the overall learning experience for your target audience. UX design involves a more holistic approach towards the way a user interacts with a product or website, considering the intentions, attitudes and behaviours that occur when a user does so. On the other hand, elearning often involves a main focus on engaging a learner in activities and achieving goals, with more emphasis placed on content.

Regardless of differences, any elearning developer can use their skills to improve their UX strategies. While many have a good knowledge of human cognition and the ways in which people successfully learn, many X designers have more of an understanding of user-technology interaction preferences. In essence, both fields can inform one another.

So why is UX design important for elearning development?

As many would assume, the interface of a website or app can greatly affect the way a user engages with the content being presented to them, and therefore influences the success of their learning. For example, how do learners focus on the content of a text-dominated elearning course, and how much does it engage them? Equally, can users effectively learn from a graphics-heavy interface with little to no text? While the content and learning reinforcements of an instance of elearning are clearly crucial, the content arrangement, flow and design elements focussed on within UX design are equally as important.

Now in more detail – what aspects of UX design are important in the context of elearning?

Engagement – engagement is driven by the uniformity, relevance and uniqueness of the interface of an elearning course. As the first thing that learners pick up on, it creates the first impression of what they are about to experience, and thus should be designed in such a way that captures their interest.

Interaction – in order to motivate the users to interact with the elearning content, it should be simple and designed in such a way that users can easily do so. This will increase interaction, and thus, accelerate the rate of course completion.

Satisfaction – the previous two aspects lead us to satisfaction; when learners can easily navigate the course, satisfaction levels, and thus levels of retention, increase, as users enjoy what they learn. The ease of navigation, the ability to utilise controls to the user’s advantage, and the graphics used, are but a few of the many elements of UX design that can be incorporated into elearning content to increase user satisfaction.

Ultimately, there is no point having outstanding elearning content, if your learners are forced to struggle through a complex user interface resulting from sub-par UX design. So, UX design for elearning really is important. With the ever-widening array of digital content possibilities, seamless and attractive UX should be considered by all elearning developers.

Check out our LinkedIn for more blogs like this

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-ux-design-trends-e-learning-2017-aashish-solanki/

https://www.dashe.com/blog/three-examples-of-how-microlearning-can-improve-your-training-program

https://elearningindustry.com/user-experience-design-training-employees

User Experience Design – the Basics

You may have heard the term ‘user experience’ or ‘UX’ – but what does this actually mean? While user experience design may be a complicated and overwhelming field for newcomers, as it encompasses areas ranging from accessibility to user interface design, and much much more. So, it is important to have a fundamental understanding of the basics of ‘user experience’ in a design context.

UX is constantly developing and revolutionising how people interact with our world. It is why Google is so simple to use, and why Facebook knows exactly what article to suggest to you next. The aim of UX design within a business is to improve the ease of an interaction experience with, and the utility of, a product – therefore improving customer satisfaction in the meantime. Whether a product is digital or physical, UX is all about enhancing the interactive experience with your product – and leaving your customers satisfied.

So, what is UX Design?

Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of designing a website that incorporates UX design in order to provide meaningful and relevant experiences to users. Setting the right balance between a high-quality user experience and the functionality of the site for your business goals is paramount. So, what does this really involve?

To begin with, ‘User Experience Design’ is often used interchangeably with terms such as ‘User Interface Design’ and ‘Usability’. However, while Usability and User Interface Design are important aspects of UX Design, they are subsets of it. In fact, UX design covers a vast array of other areas, such as Interaction Design and Web Analytics.

Successful UX design results in a website that is tailored and customised for its target market. This involves taking into account every possibility of every action the user is likely to take. UX designers also need to understand the user’s expectations at every step of the way through that process, while simultaneously integrating the product, including aspects of branding, design, usability, and function.

Role of the UX Designer…

A UX designer is concerned with the entire process of acquiring and integrating a product – a journey which begins long before the content is experienced. UX designers concentrate on pleasure, efficiency and fun, designing with not only the product’s consumption or use in mind, but also the entire process of acquiring, owning, and even troubleshooting a product. This is the recipe for a really great user experience.

In more detail, a UX designer investigates and analyses how users feel about the experiences/product that are offered to them. This knowledge is then applied to the UX development, while monitoring projects to ensure such findings are implemented – all to ensure a user experience is created to meet a particular user’s needs in the specific context where he or she uses the product.

UX Design is User Centred…

Aside from considering the business goals of a product/experience, UX design focusses on maintaining a real understanding of users – what they require, what they value, their abilities and even limitations. User-centred design is vital for a UX designer to consider.

A UX designer’s role may vary, but often involves user research, designing wireframes and interactive prototypes, as well as testing designs – these may vary from company to company, but at the centre of each is the user’s needs. Designing for users demands an acute awareness of accessibility for all, and for accommodating many potential user’s physical limitations, such as reading small text.

User Experience Honeycomb

Peter Morville’s user experience honeycomb provides a useful indication of what UX design requires to successfully fulfil its purpose. Ultimately, at the core of UX is ensuring that users find meaning and value in what is being presented to them – Morville notes that in order for them to do so, information must be:

Useful – content should satisfy a need

Usable – websites should be easy to use

Desirable – Design elements should evoke appreciation and emotion through image, identity, brand, etc

Findable – whether onsite or offsite, content should be easy to locate and navigate

Accessible – content must be accessible to those with disabilities

Credible – Users must be able to trust the information provided

In essence, UX should provide the user with some kind of benefit or advantage, that makes their time spent interacting with your content a unique and pleasurable experience

Why / What / How of Product Use

A UX designer may consider the why, what and how of product use and user experience:

Why – the ‘why’ consists of the user’s motivations for using a product or website – how they relate to it, and the values associated with ownership and/or use of it.

What – the ‘what’ is a product/website’s functionality, and addresses what people can actually do with it.

Why – the ‘why’ is concerned with designing the functionality of the experience in such a way that is accessible and aesthetically pleasing, to motivate its use.

UX designers aim for a seamless and accessible experience, therefore they may begin with the Why before establishing the What, and then moving on to the How – all to provide a meaningful user experience.

Summing it up…

Overall, this article has provided an overview of the basics of user experience, or UX, design – hopefully providing a sound understanding of the purposes of UX, how it can be implemented, and the qualities that all UX design should encompass in order to craft a meaningful and pleasurable experience for users of a product/website. Check out our Linkedin and our blog for more posts like this.

Additional useful sites relating to UX design:

https://uxdesign.cc/

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/experience-design/strong-audience-design/

https://theblog.adobe.com/what-does-a-ux-designer-actually-do/

https://uxplanet.org/user-experience-design-process-d91df1a45916

https://www.prospects.ac.uk/job-profiles/ux-designer

https://careerfoundry.com/en/blog/ux-design/what-is-user-experience-ux-design-everything-you-need-to-know-to-get-started/

https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/ux-design

4 Common Microlearning Myths Debunked

Microlearning has emerged as a buzzword in the training industry only recently over the past few years – and like any big trend, microlearning has brought with it various myths and misconceptions.

Microlearning itself refers to nuggets of information with a short duration, accessible on multiple devices, with the aim of helping employees access and apply knowledge immediately to the job situation. However, just as with any innovative technology, some of the inaccurate assumptions come from misunderstandings and confusion about how microlearning really works. This brings us to 4 common microlearning myths – debunked:

Myth 1: Any content with a short duration is Microlearning

There is a common misconception that any content that is short in duration can be considered as Microlearning, however, to qualify, these chunks of learning must be engaging, relevant and effective. In other words the most critical component of the definition is the learning part – are you able to prove that learning took place? If you can’t then your efforts are wasted!

Myth 2: Microlearning is a New Concept

The concepts associated with microlearning may sound familiar – this is unsurprising, because while the term ‘microlearning’ is relatively new, the concept is not. The fundamental principles are rooted in cognitive science, however the potential of microlearning within the workplace has only recently been realised. In many ways the concept of microlearning has evolved because of the successes of Youtube. Kahn Academy, Duolinguo, and TEDx, along with other notable examples of microlearning. It seeks to explain how so many people have become such avid users of digital learning, probably without realising that this is what they were doing.

Myth 3: Microlearning replaces traditional elearning

Microlearning is definitely not a replacement for traditional elearning and classroom based training – in fact, it is an effective way to enhance and reinforce these training methods as part of a blended learning approach. By incorporating face-to-face learning, such as coaching and mentoring, alongside traditional elearning techniques, as well as microlearning that can be accessed quickly and easily through various devices, memory retention can be greatly enhanced.

Myth 4: Microlearning is effective because nowadays people have shorter attention spans

There is a misconception held by some that learners today have shorter attentions span, possibly due to the significance of digital media and its ability to provide us with information and content at any desired time. Yet, there is little evidence to support this idea, and in fact, when people are new to a field of study, they tend to struggle to maintain concentration for more than 5-10 minutes at a time. Rather, people have no problem staying focused when they really want to – we tend to feel more engaged with story telling and challenges, and so when incorporated into learning activities, retention increases. So long as the microlearning is engaging, it will be effective. Keeping the content in the form of short bursts will also maintain focus for optimum learning potential.

Check out our LinkedIn for more information and articles

More info:

https://elearningindustry.com/microlearning-myths-debunked-3-common

Microlearning – the Science Behind It

The microlearning method makes use of short and to the point instances of learning to drive employee development and job performance, based on a topic or problem. Microlearning is appropriate when a learner aims to do something specific or requires a snippet of knowledge. The method is centred around the theory that short, repetitive learning increases long-term retention – but what is the science behind microlearning?

Well, microlearning significantly affects processing in the cognitive skills learning system. This is because microlearning techniques are targeted at working memory and attention span. The learning system then recruits the prefrontal cortex, a part of the cortex that mediates the learning of hard skills, such as learning new regulations and skills like maths and coding. Focused attention and the ability to process and rehearse information are essential to learning hard skills. Thus, microlearning is an efficient method for hard skills training.

Microlearning itself has been popularised recently due to the widespread usage of mobile devices and smart tablets, etc, in addition to apps that provide us with the ability to apply the microlearning theory into our everyday lives.

Combining Microlearning with spaced learning (developed by Hermann Ebbinghaus) provides a powerful partnership. Ebbinghaus found that progressive injections of new knowledge have a rapid memory decay in the brain, and his spaced theory suggests that ‘learning is better when the same amount of study is spread out over periods of time than it is when it occurs closer together or at the same time.’ Thus, Ebbinghaus found that repeated practice would allow people to retain more knowledge with each repetition. Microlearning mitigates cognitive overload, and facilitates long-term retention, while simultaneously increasing the likelihood that the learner will remain engaged and attentive during the microlearning session.

Furthermore, Ebbinghaus quotes, ‘overlearning – that is, continuing to practice and study even when we think that we have mastered the material’ often prevents us from realising that to retain information in the long-term, breaks and repetition are critical. Long-term memory can store a vast amount of information for long periods of time, contrary to the short-term and sensory memory which have a limited capacity. This is the reason why learners’ brains need breaks or spacing between each instance of learning, so that information can be processed and moved from the Short-term memory into the Long-term memory. This is why studying over long periods of time helps people to perform better as opposed to ‘cramming’!

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How to Create a Blended eLearning Strategy

Blended learning offers the best of both worlds,  involving learning activities as a mix of face-to face and online learning. It is important to create an informative, effective blended learning environment with a blended learning strategy that facilitates knowledge retention – doing so involves considering the goals of the course, as well as different approaches to blended learning.

Define Goals

You will want to define your blended learning course’s objectives and goals before you begin creating the content. This is because the content itself needs to be matched to students’ needs, which should be clearly identified. You should consider what skills a learner needs to develop and what information must be included within the course’s syllabus in order to develop these skills. Also, you should consider what instructional design models and learning tools could be used to convey this information.

Lefoe and Hedberg (2005) say an effective blended learning strategy takes a learning design approach. This means looking at the learning goals and basing the teaching/learning activities and assessment upon them. A course outline and/or syllabus are beneficial as they help the learner to stay on track during the course, meanwhile the developer can use the outline to monitor whether the course is progressing at the intended pace. Recognising your goals and learning objectives is crucial when developing the syllabus. It is also beneficial to specify what will be asked of the learner in terms of deadlines and assessments, participation, how the content will be delivered, and any materials required.

Consider Models and Modes of Student Engagement

Examples of blended learning design approaches:

 · Mostly face-to-face teaching with some online learning

 · A mix of face-to-face and online learning

· Mostly online learning Face to face Blended Online

Anderson (2004) argues that an emphasis on interaction rather than content is fundamental to blended learning.

When designing a blended learning course, you should think about different modes of student engagement:

 · learner – teacher interaction (how learners engage with teachers)

– this can include learning activities & assignments , lectures, tutorials & workshops,  discussion in class and forums

 · learner – learner interaction (how learners engage with each other)

– this can include collaboration, group work, discussion forums, peer review, shared files

· learner – content interaction (how learners engage with content)

– this can include individual student activity, self-study exercises, review of recorded lectures, self-assessment and quizzes

Feedback is Important

It is also good to inform the learners how they can communicate with the instructor/teacher if they have a question or concern, as well as determining how you will you gain feedback from your learners. This could be constructing a survey following the blended learning course, or a online chat for which feedback can be given.

Creating your blended learning strategy may seem complex, but with meticulous thought and planning and clear definition of goals, leading to the creation of a syllabus, you will most likely develop an effective blended learning strategy.

Check out our LinkedIn, Medium blog and website blog for related elearning articles

The Benefits of Gamification – and the Science Behind It

3 Tips for Mastering Microlearning

3 Benefits of Blended Learning

3 Benefits of Blended Learning

Blended learning is not a new concept

Blended learning involves combining face-to-face instructions with online learning. There are many benefits, for example, the approach gives learners the flexibility of being able to access training materials on their own time, at their own pace. Here are just 3 more of the benefits to using Blended Learning…

 1. Delivers An Engaging Learning Experience

First of all, a blended learning approach can deliver engaging training that your learners are sure to benefit from. When training content is presented in a variety of formats, then it is easier for information to be retained, because more attention will be focused on it. 

For example, watching a video or experiencing a simulation that’s related to the topic of training keeps learner engaged and therefore ensures that content is understood, meanwhile increasing the enjoyment of the learning experience.

2. Money Saving

Blended learning can help counter the rising expense of classroom training. Any resources needed for face-to-face classroom training are reduced, thus saving money in the process. With a blended learning approach, most materials are online and easily accessible at any time on smart devices, available to download, read, and edit.

3. Enhances Training Effectiveness

Finally, complementing classroom training programs with online training is a great strategy to reinforce learning. This is because learners can retain information more effectively when learners are given opportunities to practice what they have learned. Due to the nature of the approach, learning can be spaced and repeated, meaning online quizzes can be implemented to ensure learners are retaining the knowledge, thus improving effectiveness.

Certainly going forward, an increasing number of organisations are certain to take the blended learning approach, as along with these, there are countless benefits of using this approach to facilitate optimal learning.

For more info…

http://elearningindustry.com/

http://theelearningcoach.com/

https://elearninfo247.com/

3 Tips for Mastering Microlearning

Microlearning

It is becoming increasingly important to make training content that learners can access and consume quickly in order to facilitate better retention of information. These microlearning tips will help you to achieve this.

1. Know Your Learners

For your learners to understand what you create, it is vital that you understand your learners first. It is important for them to relate to the content. For example, those being trained to work in a supermarket may benefit from content that in some way relates to food. As a result, learners will absorb information most effectively if they can relate to the content. Therefore, using real world examples in your microlearning also achieves this and improves motivation and knowledge retention.

2. Make Use Of Games

Gamification is achieved by using elements of gaming to enhance your content. One way to do this is to build a game-based quiz at the end of each module to test learning, which may reward performance with badges or awards to keep learners motivated and on track with their performance.

Quizzes can provide you with important information about how well your learners are doing. Furthermore, larger quizzes can be broken down into smaller ones, therefore ensuring that your learners are effectively retaining the information.

3. Use Images, Videos and Infographics

If you can communicate an idea more easily with an image, this may be more effective than just describing it in words. Hence, incorporating different multimedia elements like pictures, videos and infographics is an effective way of ensuring knowledge retention and making sure your microlearning makes a powerful visual impact. Thus, it is best to use engaging and visually appealing images to highlight key points of a topic.

Microlearning as part of a blended learning program is the future of learning. However, it must be efficient and engaging, with visually appealing, precise content. This leads to effective retention of information.

For more info on microlearning…

https://elearningindustry.com/7-tips-get-started-with-microlearning

https://www.elucidat.com/blog/microlearning-examples/

https://www.trainingzone.co.uk/community/blogs/timbuff/10-tips-for-developing-effective-microlearning

3 Key Benefits of Microlearning

Microlearning allows learners to absorb information based on what is required at a particular time, meaning courses are broken down into consumable pieces of information.

Microlearning has a number of advantages when compared to traditional learning for organisations that are looking for increased learner participation, memorability of courses, and so on.

 

 

  1. Better Engagement and Retention

Microlearning allows content to be delivered in short “bursts”, therefore enhancing knowledge retention. This engages learners more effectively as the microlearning is targeted for a specific learning objective, making its duration shorter.  Thus, learners don’t feel bored or fatigued as they may do while working through longer courses, as microlearning content is around 5 to 10 minutes long. It allows them to quickly understand the concept, so they don’t feel rushed or bored, meaning they complete the course faster.

 

 

2. Faster development

Because knowledge transfer is more efficient in a microlearning model, the overall duration of training can often be reduced, saving organisations time and effort and ultimately getting the job done faster. When content is produced in small quantities as opposed to a major course, the production cost is also minimal. Microlearning courses are faster to develop and deploy, and so they fulfill the needs of the organisation to train their staff much more quickly without investing a lot of time into developing longer training modules.

 

3.  It’s conveniently mobile friendly

Since the courses and modules are broken into bite-sized pieces, the learners can look up courses on-the-go. Being able to access microlearning in daily life, to and from work is a popular way in which many people use their free time to continue learning. Microlearning can be implemented on any device, be it a computer, tablet, or a smartphone, meaning modules can be worked through in learner’s own time for example when at home or even over a lunchtime coffee break. Because the courses are short, they can be very easily accessed on a smartphone or device. Mobile learning offers convenience and flexibility to learners, providing a variety of interactive activities for learners on the go. Having the option to complete training on personal mobile devices can increase willingness to engage with the learning experience.

 

These are just some of the many benefits of using microlearning to improve learner experience.

5 Steps to Using Microlearning Successfully in Your Content

Using microlearning in your training is an effective method of improving learner motivation, knowledge retention and success, but how do you go about incorporating it into your training? And how are you to be sure it is effective? Here are 5 steps to using microlearning in your content successfully.

 

 

  1. Engage trainers before learning

What happens before and after training can be just as important as what is done during training. This is where priming comes in. Priming refers to events before the training that increases the likelihood of learning and retention of key information. Priming is a memory phenomenon in which exposure to one stimulus influences a response to another related stimulus.  For example, prior to training, you can prime learners by having them engage with a video or game before the training ever begins.

 

2. Chunk your content into bite-sized pieces

In order to create microlearning that facilitates knowledge retention, chunking your content into smaller ‘portions’ can help achieve this. Cognitive load theory states that we have mental “bandwidth” restrictions, meaning our brain can only process a certain amount of information at a time. Chunking is handy here as it lowers the cognitive load. These short training “bursts” can be delivered daily or even several times a week, and fit effortlessly into today’s busy schedules.

 

3. Testing

Testing increases learning more than any other study method, and incorporating tests and quizzes into employee training programs is a critical part of the learning itself. Long-term memory is increased when some of the learning time is assigned to retrieving the information. It is important to make the testing challenging – researchers from neuroscience and psychology support the idea that making training programs more challenging improves long-term retention.

 

4. Reinforcement

Without reinforcement, information can be quickly forgotten, but learners do not want to repeat a longer course only to get the specific information they needed. That’s where microlearning comes in, proving itself useful when specific aspects of a course are required to be revisited. Learners can jump back in to the course and access the information again quickly and easily without repeating information they already know. This leads to successful reinforcement in particular areas, resulting in better knowledge retention.

 

5. Making the content compatible with smartphones

With the number of smartphone users currently by the billion, elearning on the go is a convenient way to gain new knowledge. When people use smartphones to answer questions or gain skills, concise and simple information that does not take long to read and understand is ideal.

Microlearning, when coupled with eLearning on smartphones, acknowledges the learners’ need for short and concise information that can be absorbed “just in time”, and is beneficial as it allows for on-the-go learning and increased knowledge retention.

 

If implemented effectively, microlearning can propel businesses and its employees to maximum success. These steps should help guide your implementation of microlearning into your learning content.

 

Introduction to Blended Learning

Blended learning is a combination of offline (face-to-face, traditional classroom methods) and online technology based elearning, both integrated together so that one compliments the other, creating a new, hybrid method of teaching.

 

 

Blended learning is composed of self-pacing and live training. So, for example, a student might engage in learning within a real-world classroom setting, while also later completing online multimedia coursework to supplement the lesson. This is highly convenient as the learner is able to work at their own pace outside the classroom and only has to physically attend class for a limited time. It has been suggested that students who complete online coursework followed by interactive, face-to-face class activities have an enhanced learning experience.

Blended learning is often also referred to as ‘hybrid’ learning, and it can include many forms of online education environments. Tools and platforms that complement blended learning include LMSs and mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. Some organisations use blended learning as their primary method of teaching, while some may only use it on rare occasions.

Instances of Blended Learning are usually made up of around three components:

  • Traditional in-person, offline methods facilitated by an educator
  • Online methods and learning materials, including pre-recorded material from an educator
  • Independent study issued to build upon skills

While traditional education tends to mainly deliver material through lectures, blended learning lectures can be filmed ahead of time, so the student can watch on their own time at their own pace.

Examples of Blended Learning

One of the major benefits of blended learning is the ability to create an online resource within your LMS (learning management system) that learners can refer to before and after live training sessions.

Completing online learning activities before live training can help learners prepare, as such activities will introduce the content, and could include reference reading, watching videos or answering a pre-course questionnaire to assess the learner’s abilities.

Based off these activities, instructors can identify areas that need to be focused on during the classroom-based training session, or in other areas of the course, allowing the educator to tailor it to the learners’ needs.

This also ensures that learners will enter live training sessions with the same knowledge level on a topic, meaning that the instructor will not have to cover the basics, therefore saving time.

Learners can also complete exams or quizzes, and submit assignments for the course instructor to assess, aswell as being able to give feedback online via the course.

Additionally, online group chats can encourage learners to discuss the content of the course – forums are also a great way for learners to discuss any live sessions.

 

Related Articles:

https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/creating-blended-learning-content

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/blended-learning-getting-started/0/steps/7848

https://edtechnology.co.uk/Article/the-impact-of-blended-learning