Creating e-learning requires figuring out the needed pieces of information and how they fit together. However, it can be easy to keep adding pieces, too many pieces, in an attempt to ensure your user is getting every bit of information they need to learn. However, you’re making it more difficult for the end-user by stuffing the screen full of text, images, and graphics. Bloated courses require users to sift through all the information on-screen and figure out what is important before being able to process the material. How can they be expected to apply what they are supposed to learn when their path is filled with cognitive hurdles?
Compliance courses are the most cited examples of bloated e-learning. Most can remember a required compliance course that lasted too long and contained more information than was needed to make its point.
Content overload is one of the most common e-learning mistakes out there.
So, what do you do if you realize your course is bloated with information? Try these tips to deflate it:
Think outside of the course
Your job is to structure the content for maximum impact for the end-user. Think of different ways to present non-essential or extra information as supplemental materials, such as job aids or digital performance support, for example, an online glossary of terms or a troubleshooting guide.
Doing this allows your user to process what is presented in the e-learning, only referencing the supplemental material if needed. It’s an easy way to streamline your course and focus on what the learner needs.
Chunk it out
Chunking is a common practice of taking information and sectioning it into smaller, more manageable, and more easily digestible bits of information. You’ll want to prioritize the chunks based on the desired outcome. If the user needs to pass a quiz at the end of the course, spotlight the most crucial content. If the user needs to complete a task, keep the focus on the steps of the process.
If you can’t whittle the information to fit into a comfortable e-learning course, consider breaking it apart into mini-courses that can be taken one step at a time.
‘Hide’ information for users to find
Clickable tabs, rollovers, and hotspots offer a way to organize and present lots of related information in a visually clean manner. Information is ‘hidden’ until the user makes a move to expose it. These interactions are also a way to get the user exploring the screen and information presented; just make sure your users can find and know how to access them.
Think visually and write fewer lines
Graphics and images can convey information more succinctly than words, so pull essential facts and support them with an eye-catching visual. Infographics are far superior to bullet points when conveying information and are unarguably more visually pleasing.
Keep your writing snappy. Ditch superlatives and any words that don’t add value. Even small changes, such as replacing “Click the next arrow to continue” with “What’s next?”, make a difference in readability and visual spacing.
Bloated courses contain excessive information and are uncomfortable for users to sit through. When you realize your course has too much material for users to be comfortable with, start thinking about how to streamline and focus on spotlighting the pertinent information while hiding the supplemental. Put those plans into action to begin to deflate your bloated course and make it more palatable for your users.