Now that 2020 is officially underway, the latest and upcoming eLearning trends for the year are beginning to emerge as the global online learning market continues to expand. From its humble beginnings in the 1990s, eLearning has developed and grown into a convenient, flexible, and effective method of learning, suited to the technological needs of learners of the 21st century. So, in order to keep Millennial and Gen Z learners engaged, ensure that learning is successfully taking place, and to prevent falling behind with the times, it is important to keep up to date with the latest eLearning methods. Here are 4 current and up-and-coming trends of 2020…
Increase in Use of AI
AI – or Artificial Intelligence – is a current tool used in eLearning, and its use is set to be on the increase as 2020 progresses. AI brings a plethora of benefits to the eLearning experience; for one, it can act as a mentor to learners, for example chatbots, providing feedback and information at any time on a variety of devices.
Aside from also being effective and fast, AI can also translate learning material for international audiences at rapid speeds, much faster than traditional methods of translation, thus making huge savings on time and money. Some of the largest companies in the world use AI for this purpose, to dramatically cut costs and boost sales. AI can essentially enable machines to learn like humans do – learning from experience – thus allowing them to conduct tasks that humans would usually carry out (like translation).
More Emphasis on Mobile Learning
Nearly everyone across the globe uses a mobile phone, with over 6.8 billion users in 2019, and a predicted 7.7 billion in 2021; thus, it is unsurprising that more and more phone owners are using their mobiles for online learning, especially due to its variety of benefits for knowledge consumption. For example, as we have become more and more preoccupied with mobile phones as the years have progressed, it has become increasingly normalised for the work of learners and employees to overlap with their leisure time, often for the purposes of career enhancement and seizing work opportunities. This may include learners accessing online learning resources at home, in cafes, and when travelling.
Thus, eLearning design for mobile phone use should be carefully considered in 2020, for example, ensuring that infographics fit to the mobile screen, or making sure that files are in a PDF format so that they can be easily accessed on mobile. Aside from the benefit of allowing learners to access any learning information whenever they desire, the use of mobile learning also compliments the widely effective eLearning method of microlearning, which breaks down learning material into bitesize chunks to ensure they are more digestible, and thus facilitates better learning. Mobile learning allows people to access smaller chunks of information, such as quick quizzes and flashcard tools, etc, thus it makes perfect sense that mobile learning and microlearning go hand in hand.
Use of VR and AR Will Increase
VR – or Virtual Reality – and AR – Augmented Reality – are unmistakably on the rise when it comes to eLearning methods to deliver immersive training. VR provides a totally immersive experience that makes the learner feel as though they are in the situation presented to them with the 360-degree technology. Meanwhile, AR is designed to augment the world we see, for example adding an overlay of images to enable a learner to complete a task in a real life setting.
Both AR and VR can be used for learning in risk related environments; learners can master tasks safely and if mistakes are made the consequences can be highlighted and remedied without any potential for injury. Both technologies have been making a significant impact on the development of eLearning, and are set to continue to do so over the next decade.
User Experience Becoming More Highly Valued
Information is becoming much more readily available to learners across nearly all platforms, each providing a different user experience, one example being the use of mobile learning. Thus, one of the many eLearning trends in 2020 will be an increase in the value placed upon user experience by businesses, as a good experience for users is more likely to facilitate effective learning.
What constitutes a good user experience includes eLearning design which is engaging, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to understand, and so it is vital for eLearning developers to strongly consider these factors when creating and designing eLearning content. Of course, it is also important to personalise the user experience to your audience, as a good eLearning designer knows what specific elements motivate their target audience.
So there you have it – 4 trends that are likely to continue to influence eLearning design for 2020. In order to deliver successful training to your learners, it is important to keep up to date with new and up-and-coming training methods, especially in such a fast-growing and competitive industry. Be sure to check out our blog and our Linkedin for more posts like this to keep yourself informed.
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The Difference Between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
With the rapid growth of immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), brings a certain level of confusion as to where these two technologies differ. While the two are definitely related, both being perception-altering and immersive, they are also very different. Due to the increasing use of VR and AR in technology today, it is important to know what these differences are. Ultimately, the main difference between the two is the ‘perception of our presence’:
Possibly the most prolific of the immersive technologies, experiences of Virtual Reality (VR) leave users completely surrounded by a computer-generated reality or environment, blocking out the room through closed visors or goggles. Virtual reality experiences are typically aimed at enhancing or creating an imaginary environment and are used for gaming but also for training, creating virtual real-life environments, such as flight or surgeon simulations, which help professionals practise before the real thing. In fact, VR is predicted to be increasingly used in all kinds of fields and professions, as businesses figure out the ways in which this technology can enhance operations. The impacts of Virtual Reality on the brain are immense. Putting on a VR headset will shut out the current world, yet, it will expose your senses to experiences within the dramatically immersive Virtual Reality. Some users have even reportedly experienced feelings of movement while riding a rollercoaster, or as they climb staircases. Virtual Reality can feel very real and the technology is constantly improving and evolving.
On the other hand, Augmented Reality (AR), another type of immersive technology, differs from Virtual Reality in several ways. AR uses our current reality, and adds something to it, augmenting our current state of presence, rather than moving us elsewhere. This makes our reality more meaningful through the ability to interact with it, usually through apps or mobile devices with digital components that blend into, but can be differentiated from, the real world. One popular example of augmented reality is Pokemon GO, which uses technology that overlays digital information into the real world, rather than providing a completely immersive experience like in a Virtual Reality. Furthermore, Augmented Reality technology is becoming more and more mainstream, for example IKEA has created an AR app that allows potential customers to visualise what products would look like in their homes before buying them, overlaying an image of the product into the actual image of the real life room. This is one of the many ways in which Augmented Reality can enhance our everyday experience.
Essentially, Virtual Reality is much more immersive for the user, whereas Augmented Reality builds upon the user’s perception of real life, possibly giving them more freedom due to the lack of need for goggles or a head-mounted display. Picture the difference as this – with VR, you can swim with sharks, and with AR, you can watch sharks pop out from your smartphone.
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User experience design is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving usability, accessibility and desirability. The product could be almost anything that a human interacts with but this blog focuses on the interactions between a human and a website.
The majority of us spend a good amount of our daily lives online, reading the news, using applications, and navigating websites, yet often our user experience online is not the best it could be. So, what makes successful UX Design, and constitutes the ‘best’ user experience possible for your website? Here are some of the most important tips for UX Design best practise that every web designer should follow;
Know Your User
While, for example, time and budget are important factors to consider, arguably the most important factor in UX Design best practise is not losing sight of the people actually using the product or interacting with the website. You need to know your audience in order to tailor the experience to them and it really helps if you know their needs, wants and desires. Consider how certain colours, fonts, layouts will make them feel; use visual and interactive qualities to evoke an emotional response from your user, and help your design stand out in a competitive world. And, remember to take on board any feedback from your audience, as this is invaluable to improving your UX Design.
One tip for a fantastic user experience and key element of UX Design best practise is design consistency. Consistency of UX elements allows for predictable and distinguishable actions, meaning users can easily interact with your product/website, and begin to trust it more and more. Consistent actions allow the UX to flow and remove the need for *user discovery, meaning the task at hand runs more smoothly. If an application is easy to use, then user satisfaction will certainly be maximised, and consistent actions will soon become second nature, allowing the user to use the product without even thinking.
*User discovery can be great for learning design but might not be so great for UX design.
Clarity and Simplicity
Leading on from consistency, clarity and simplicity are what drives user satisfaction, and form another aspect of UX Design best practise. In a split second, users will have evaluated the design of your website, product, or interface, therefore you should make whatever you want your users to do apparent and easy to follow. Be explicitly clear, for example, visually focus attention on the main button as opposed to lots of buttons on a webpage – this allows for easy navigation and minimal confusion. Successful UX Design is highly useable and provides a clear and consistent layout for its users, meaning the aesthetics, colours and actions presented to them can allow them to easily navigate the interface.
There are many factors and elements that make up UX Design best practise, and those listed above are but a few. Check out higher level learning blog and our LinkedIn for more content on elearning design and UX Design and other related areas.
Well thought-out UX Design is crucial for developing an outstanding eLearning course. But, it is essential that any User Experience Designer and/or eLearning developer has taken the time to really consider what makes a User Experience successful. So, here are 5 things that we recommend considering to ensure that any learner/user experience is the best it can be.
1. Plan, plan, plan
Planning is an essential part of the UX Design journey, as this prevents wasted time from correcting mistakes and revisions that may be necessary if you jump straight into the digital design of the User Interface. Planning involves really delving deep into the mind and needs of the learner, and what they really need to take from the eLearning experience. With them in mind, the aesthetic elements of the UX design process should begin with an exploration of ideas, for example using site maps and user-flow diagrams to organise thoughts and test out possibilities.
2. Always know ‘how’
One rule of thumb is that no learner should be at any point during the course left wondering how to perform a task. If they have to stop and think ‘how’ to close a tab, progress to the next page, or exit the course altogether, then this is not a successful UX design. In order to prevent this, the user interface should be designed in such a way that the learner can easily navigate around course without any confusion. After all, you shouldn’t assume that the user knows what you know about the design itself. Make it easy for them!
3. Is Navigation the Most Important Element?
In short, no. While extremely important for User Experience design in the context of eLearning, the learner’s ultimate aim is to complete a task or goal, and to retain the information presented to them. It could be argued that the actual content of the course is more essential to the learner than the means in which they navigate the content. Yet, the way information is presented to learners can affect the level of retention of the course content, as smooth, seamless navigation can lead to a more enjoyable user experience, meaning learners are more motivated to, well, learn. Therefore, the navigation of the interface should complement the learner’s goals.
4. Consistency is key
In terms of the User Interface, the navigation and design should be consistent to prevent learners from having to guess. If the ‘next’ button is in a particular position on one page, be sure to keep it there on the next. It’s a relatively obvious thing to consider, but inconsistency in the design is a common mistake. If the User Experience is consistent, then learners can trust the process of the course, as they know what to expect. This makes the experience more enjoyable and easier as a whole and prevents wasting any time playing hide and seek with buttons.
5. Be inspired by daily life
In a world surrounded by digital experiences, take advantage of your exposure to the various user interfaces you come across in life. Pay attention to what you like, as well as what you don’t like, be it checking your email, surfing the web on your IPad, or even at the self-service checkout in your local shop. As opposed to a UX designer’s perspective, this puts you in the shoes of the user/learner and gives you an invaluable opportunity to register the emotions and thoughts you have when interacting with the digital world around you. After all, learners will experience similar emotions when interacting with your UX design, so be sure to take some inspiration from what works and doesn’t work for you.
While there are many more factors to consider for successful User Experience design when designing eLearning courses, these were but a few examples of what you could consider to make your own design really great.
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The user experience (or UX) of a website or app is critical to keep users engaged and eager to interact with the content at hand. In the context of UX design for elearning, this is incredibly important, as better engagement equals better retention of information, and thus, leads to a successful elearning course. Here are 4 UX design trends for elearning in 2019, which will have a positive impact on user engagement.
UX Design trends in the context of eLearning in 2019 can include gamifying the learning experience. Gamification in elearning is rapidly emerging as an effective technique to enhance learning, using motivational elements and engaging design to do so. This trend of incorporating playful elements, such as presenting challenges in the form of games, or by using game elements like badges and points, motivates learners and increases friendly competition between them. As a result, this leads to successful elearning.
One innovative elearning example that makes use of gamification in its user interface is Duolingo, where players are able to achieve skill patches after completing certain levels and can propose challenges to friends to earn ‘Lingots’, the in-game currency. However, while it may be easy to get carried away with adding all sorts of gaming elements to your elearning design, it is important to ensure it is well thought out, well designed, and above all, relevant. Challenges and competition, rewards, like stars or badges can improve motivation and tap into the learner’s aspirations and introduce a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. However, finding your learners ‘true’ motivational drive can often provide the best success.
Much more UX designers are embracing that age-old idea that ‘less is more’ – the aim is simplicity, and it is common for elearning developers to strip down to only the material which the learner will need, and presenting it in a minimalistic manner. Uncluttered interfaces are key to a seamless, smooth user experience, and we are seeing increasingly more websites and apps with simple user interface designs which rely on a few bold colours, clean layouts, and open spaces, as opposed to distracting, busy designs using shadows and texture.
Keeping the user interface design light and simple allow the user to only see what they need, and when it is needed; and contribute to a seamless interaction flow, making the learner feel at ease and in control. Another minimalistic user interface design example is smoother transitioning. This means reducing the tension between taking an action and giving a response to it, for example, having smooth transitions between clicking the ‘next’ button and moving to the next slide of the course. While this may seem like a minor consideration, it is one that contributes to a better user experience overall.
UX Design trends for elearning in 2019 can also include microlearning, which refers to giving learners information in the form of small ‘bitesize’ chunks, delivering content in small, specific, and manageable bursts. This is a popular trend because it gives learners the autonomy to direct their own learning path, consuming content at their own pace. Microlearning in elearning can consist of easy to read layouts with small chunks of text, with a brief description about what is about to be learnt and how much time they need to invest in it.
Furthermore, UX design elements in elearning that also constitute as microlearning can include short videos and slides, which can provide information quickly and concisely, as opposed to long articles. Not only is this less time consuming, a short video explaining the basics of a concept is sure to helps learners grasp concepts much more quickly, which in turn maximises the focus and engagement with the course, thus leading to success. Microlearning also can be accessed on the go, and thus helps learners manage their time, something which has become increasingly more important in the fast-paced, modern society.
4. Social Learning
Social learning is another trend present in the field, due to the fact that learners are often present on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter, etc. Learning doesn’t have to be confined to one platform only, and thus, successful UX design in the context of elearning may involve keeping momentum and building trust through updates and friendly reminders through social media, in order to ensure the user experience is the best it can be to optimise learning. Students like to share knowledge with friends or join groups/clubs, so extending the learning experience beyond the main format and incorporating social media is a good way to enhance it. Examples of how this can be done can include creating a Facebook group for a set of trainees/learners, where live video features can be used by students to create course videos to share with the group.
Another example could be on Twitter, where a classroom hashtag can be created where learners and educators alike can tweet in long walls of text. Ultimately, there is an emerging trend of integrating social media platforms with elearning to offer a more relatable and engaging learner experience. Similarly, just like learners may switch between social media platforms, they may wish to switch between devices. Therefore, in today’s digital climate, it is common for elearning UX designers to create a responsive or adaptive design. A responsive design simply responds to the size of a device, and adjusts itself to fit the screen accordingly, for example accessing elearning from a laptop, then sizing down when on a mobile phone. On the other hand, adaptive sites require totally different versions of a site to be created, so that when a page is opened on a specific device or browser, the correct version loads. So, due to the social media-heavy lives of learners, as well as the multitude of devices used, it is becoming more of a trend to cater to these aspects of learner’s busy lives.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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