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6 Useful Tips to Avoid Designing Boring eLearning Courses

There’s no such thing as boring, so you have no excuse if your eLearning courses are falling flat!

If our team, students, coworkers, customers, and friends keep thinking your eLearning courses are “boring,” they’re never going to get the maximum benefit from them and you'll keep wasting your time, money, and energy.

If you are feeling stuck in a rut and need some ideas to cook up some creativity and spice up your courses, this post is for you!


Don't Bore Your Audience! Here’re some ideas you can implement today to avoid designing boring courses:

1) Find the angle that makes your content remarkable

Remarkable is the keyword here. What makes your course remarkable? Maybe the learner will get a huge benefit from taking the course or feel great when they’ve completed it. Perhaps it will help them aid a cause they care about, like sustainability. Maybe the course is particularly fun in some way.

Learning really does take effort, but students aren’t going to bother to work up a sweat for something that they don’t have a clear reason for doing. Make it clear to students what they’re going to get from the course and how they can transfer the things they’ve learned into real-life practice.

Also read: 10 Ideas to Create Engaging eLearning Courses

2) Add powerful imagery 

Nobody likes text-heavy content. This is actually what makes interesting courses look so boring! Visuals are not only more effective in conveying material quickly but using photos, icons, or even infographics instead of words can go a long way in improving engagement.

But don't use any visual you find handy. Strategically use photos that convey a certain feeling that you would like to evoke in your learners. Learners will enjoy taking your courses once the right emotions are triggered. If your learners are moved by your powerful, emotional imagery, they associate the same feelings with your course thereby promoting engagement. 

Here’s a hint: if you’re using a photo of a person, try finding one where the person is making direct eye contact with the viewer.

Read more: The 4 Adult Learning Elements You Should Include in Your eLearning Courses

3) Make content easy-to-read

Just like with any other type of web page or marketing message online, readability should be a key element to factor in on any eLearning course we create. Courses should be designed with careful attention to the layout of the screen, the organization of the content, and the spacing between elements.  Specifically, you want the content to be easy to read for your learners.

Unfortunately, too many eLearning designers believe that just transferring the content of a presentation or a PDF  into screens —words on a page—is enough for success.

But it’s just not the case. An eLearning course that isn’t easy to read isn’t useful and IS BORING TO TAKE.

Break up your content with plenty of subheadsings so that it can be read almost like an expanded outline. This is called “visual hierarchy.”

There are two key reasons subheadings are really important:

  1. They are easy to read. We’ve included strong subtitles in this article, and you can see how clear the structure is and how easy it is to find the information you need right away. Most people will skim the headings before reading a full screen, so use that to your advantage and give them good organization and meaty headings.
  1. Grab attention. Eye-catching but tasteful copy makes an impression and causes the content to be easy to remember because people are drawn to the visual.

Additional reads:

Design Tools to Build Visual Hierarchy in eLearning

5 eLearning Design Mistakes That Can Ruin a Good First Impression

4) Include video

Videos are the best way to get an audience’s attention, as shown by the number of video views on social media. Not only are they visual, but they often tell a story, and audiences eat that up.

The same trend is visible in eLearning. After all, the human brain is hardwired to engage better with real conversations (where the tone of voice and moving images/gestures create a multi-dimensional experience). And that's what video is all about: it combine texts, images, and sounds to create an immersive learning environment. Adding video to eLearning courses is a  fun, visual, and effective way to appeal to more learning styles than a 'rote-learning-read-this-100-times' approach. It can be used to include more sensorial and realistic experiences into your courses - from selfie videos, expert tips, testimonials, examples, and non-example demos.

Read more: How Do I Produce Video for My eLearning Courses? A DIY Guide

So, if you want to engage your learners and provide them with information that sticks, consider adding a video now and then in your eLearning course. It can be as simple as someone speaking or it can be a high-end production, but either way, it gives your audience something that will help them make sense of the material.

Grab more ideas here:  9 Ways to Use Video in Your Online Training Courses

5) "I feel you"

Be empathetic and real to humanize your eLearning course. Put yourself in the shoes of your learners, and include helpful bits like hover tooltips or an estimated reading time for a passage. Make things fun and easy to use.

One program that does this super well is Freshbooks, which manages timekeeping and invoices. Tracking time isn’t super fun, but the program will sometimes cheer on its users with fun messages like “Way to go!” or “Pow!” Humorous and cute details add personality to an experience that might otherwise be boring.

Recommended read: Empathy As Your Starting Point for Great eLearning Design

6) Teach with case studies

If appropriately used, case studies can become a powerful tool: instead of simply presenting facts, use the facts to craft an engaging success story that will inspire learners to continue learning.

Storytelling is a natural mode for the human brain, which is why we watch movies for fun instead of reading dictionaries. We experience stories as if they are actually happening to us.

Here’s an outline for effective storytelling:

  • First, identify the problem(s) your learners face in real life.
  • Explain how it impacted them, usually in terms of money or time.
  • Explain what prevented them from taking action sooner or in another way, or what else they’ve tried to do to solve the problem.
  • Explain how to solve the problem.
  • Finish up with how the situation changed for the better. 

More ideas: 4 Ideas to Make Dry Content Interesting in eLearning


Do you feel like any of your course content is boring? What do your students think? How are you going to improve your lackluster information?



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