Instructional Design

A lot of Instructional designers start out as Graphic Designers. There is a special correlation between the two. Active and powerful eLearning largely depends on accurate graphics, visual representation and lucid text. Graphics form an integral part of eLearning and assist in intrinsically motivating readers.

eLearning is proven to increase knowledge retention by 25% to 60%. In fact, illustrated text is 9 percent more effective than text alone. The need for revision and more elaborate content in eLearning clearly puts emphasis on illustrated and pictorial text.

Photoshop is a great tool for devising advanced graphics to suit course needs. Picture this, you are taking a course on new strategies in digital marketing but the course lacks well-elaborated figures. An extensive portion of the text focuses on figures which are quite a mundane trend. Well illustrated, multi-hued, geometrical figure based facts and statistics will appeal to learners more and stick in their memory for longer.

Course makers can take cues from photoshop itself and utilize its user-friendly navigation, extensively explored features, tactic design, ease of use as a prototype for designing advanced eLearning modules and chapters. Today, we will talk about the lessons instructional designers can learn from Photoshops to up their design game.

Elements of Instructional designing focus largely on convenient browsing and ease of use. Navigation remains to be a popular sphere which designers should consider prominent to the course design. It provides the learners to navigate through the course which is the reason courses should be navigation friendly. The content should be arranged in such a manner that learners don’t face a hard time getting to one chapter from another or looking up specific expressions or words.

A good example is photoshop which has tools listed in the most user-friendly manner with a visible menu list that houses swatches, paints, brushes, layers, tools, history, etc. As you access the drop-down menu on Windows, just a single click on the option of history, color, brushes, or swatches will do the job. One click and a new window will appear on the right side of the screen. What’s notable in Adobe Photoshop CS6 is that when you hover the cursor over the tools, a small square box with name, description and pictorial representation of the tool appears. It is quite an effective tip that course makers can follow while creating an index or long list of contents.

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Typography is the detail and the presentation of a story. It represents the voice of an atmosphere, or historical setting of some kind. It can do a lot of things.

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A large part of the courses focuses on textual representation of facts, statistics, tools, tips, lessons, etc. Typography is undoubtedly a winning factor in any content. It is the body, the style of the content.

The visual representation largely depends on illustrious typography. Typefaces represent the tone and aura of the content, a page and when used in eLearning, it can be effectively used to trigger better learning experience. Good typefaces enhance overall appearance and character of any course while a poor and uninformed choice in typeface can essentially kill the design. A good tactic would be to take a cue from Photoshop and incorporate a uniform style of typography throughout the course to give it a sense of consistency and identity.

A good choice of changing the style of typography is using steady line of spacing, italic subheadings and content with emboldened main headings and normal descriptions. Hyperlinked expressions or words can be highlighted through underlining and content can be further styled through these simple tactics.

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Contrary to belief, eLearning Authoring Tool widens creative options when creating a course. It enables course creators to select a pre-designed template and add valuable learning material to it to design a full-fledged course. Furthermore, the template comes equipped with options to include flash cards, pictorials, surveys, spreadsheets, quizzes, polls, PowerPoint presentations, etc.

An advantage to designing using a template is that it cuts down the hard work and the designer only has to collect, organize and apply the information to the course template to finish it. An impressive part of the course content is a graphic representation of the facts through illustrations. Nobody wants to get lost inside an ocean of words which is the reason why illustrations and graphics save the day.

Design elements even create a relationship and sense of order between text discussed. It gives content meaning and concludes larger, harder to grasp information in a simple, authentic and easy way, enabling quicker training and a better understanding of facts.

Moreover, adding illustrations to a course only makes it more readable and effective since most readers don’t explore beyond 20% of a piece.

Picture-backed colorful illustrations, geometrical figures and diagrams elaborating studies and stats in your course will make learners grasp that information faster and retain it for longer as compared to a lengthy study overpopulated with percentages and numbers.

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Quintessential for design, balance can be of two types: Symmetrical and Asymmetrical. While the former is traditionally sought in visual design extensively, the latter brings an element of dynamism to design. It grips the viewer through its uneven proportion and introduces visuals in a tactical form.

Photoshop versions design follows a specific sequence and hierarchy. Tools, filters, windows, etc appear in a carefully decided place. The descending order of drop-down menu of file option is quite impressive as it moves from creating a new file to export and further to post on behance and eventually to exit. The placement of the options is most applause-worthy since it is based on user interest and begins from creating a new file to exiting the operation. Filter list is just as carefully spun with important tools and commands listed in a simple hierarchy, enabling users to browse and choose easily.

Instructional designers can take a hint from Photoshop layout and tool placement and maintain balance in their design and content. The text shouldn’t surpass illustrated content and the latter shouldn’t appear tasteless and baseless either. Balance should be maintained when organizing content with pictures and graphics so learners find it easy to cover the entire course without pauses.

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Alex White, the author of The Elements of Graphic Design, stated harmony the ultimate goal of visual design. In other words, it is visual unity, where all elements and components are in agreement and no individual piece of the design is looking superfluous. When using an online eLearning Software, there is a strong chance that monotony and similarity in designs may kill your design. So, how do you maintain variety and life in your courses when using pre-designed template-based software for creating courses online?

The answer is simple: Focus on the design. Think of what you are creating as a design masterpiece and breathe life into it with harmonized elements. Avoid textual and design errors and distance yourself from certain design killing practices like uneven design, lack of continuation, mimicked shapes and design, imbalance and tense distribution of text and pictures, etc.

Photoshop is a decent example of revolutionizing design which has retained its original elements while going through a complete makeover with every updated version. It still has the same menu and toolbox along with appearance option in windows. Open the drop down list in a window and click on any option and a small dialog box for the option will appear on the right part of the screen. In terms of functionality, Photoshop witnesses advancements without losing core elements of its design. Instructional designers can follow the harmony retained by Photoshop visuals and functions to create unified courses.

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Summing up
Photoshop focuses on making user design experience simpler, quicker and thoughtful. With easy plugins extending its functionality, designers can now perform the majority of functions in Photoshop with simple clicks. Instructional designers should follow the changing design and content principle of Photoshop and concentrate on developing user-friendly, descriptive and well-illustrated courses that enhance the learning experience.

Kamy Anderson is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of corporate training and education. He is an expert in learning management system & elearning authoring tools – currently associated with ProProfs.