Online learning is now fulfilling all sorts of organisational and individual needs. It can be used to help employees learn new skills or processes and to share knowledge across organisations or agencies. Other modules are designed to raise public awareness of an issue.
So what are the advantages of eLearning, and why has it become so popular?
Okay, you get why eLearning is such a powerful tool. But what does that have to do with design?
Design companies aren’t your typical eLearning providers, but at StudioC, we love using the power of good design to transform learning experiences. This is why design is so important in eLearning:
Design is changing eLearning by shifting the focus away from what an instructor wants learners to know and towards what the learners themselves want and need to know.
Co-design is the heart of our practice and we use co-design tools to help us deeply understand learners’ needs before we dive into the actual design of the experiences. The result is more learners spend longer using the experiences, and take away more from them, because the learning is both targeted and fun.
For example, StudioC recently collaborated with the Ministry of Health Manatū Hauora to co-create two Ngā Paerewa Health and Disabilities Services Standard eLearning modules. The modules include aspects of mātauranga Māori, and it provides many real-world examples of how healthcare providers can enact the principles of te Tiriti o Waitangi in their work on a daily basis.
Design is also transforming eLearning by giving people flexibility in where and when they learn. Increasingly people aren’t using online learning to gain a full degree or certificate. Instead, many learners want small, bite-sized chunks of learning (also called “micro-learning”) that they can do in their own time from anywhere.
We are currently collaborating with Creative HQ to develop a series of micro-assets for startup founders. The micro-assets are 10-15 minutes long and designed to be readily accessible on any device. Each asset focuses on a specific topic that founders have told us they need to learn about in order to start their business.
Design is especially critical in micro-assets because of the length of time learners have to engage. Clever design will grab their attention immediately and innovative tools help learners dig into and interact with the material quickly.
The final way design is transforming e-learning is by using tools like video, audio, animation and interactive activities to keep learners interested and engaged. Since the pandemic, there has been a massive shift in learners’ expectations for digital environments. It’s no longer enough to have just text-based content, or to think a quiz at the end will suffice for interactivity.
Learners want an environment that is aesthetically appealing and that provides a seamless experience that is simple to navigate. Gamification, virtual reality and community hubs are all tools that learners increasingly expect in digital classrooms - and ways that designers can really make a difference to the success of an e-learning project.
We love bringing content to life through animation and video. Here is an example from the nine part eLearning package we developed for Farming with Native Biodiversity. We took photos and videos of farmers and farm advisors from around the country to share their knowledge and experience.
Keen to see more? View StudioC’s animation and videography portfolio.
The future of eLearning
Until recently, it was relatively uncommon for designers to be engaged in online learning projects (with the notable exception of instructional designers of course), but given these trends and learners’ new expectations, we think this is changing. If you are developing eLearning, a designer can make the difference between your project falling flat and attracting a large and engaged audience who are keen to keep learning.
We are always on the hunt for other passionate eLearning creatives, so get in touch if you are working in this space and want to collaborate. And if you have an eLearning project that needs some creative oomph, we’d love to hear from you too.