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Effective, Engaging eLearning Content Design in 4 Ways

It starts with a 300-page research paper or a 90-slide Powerpoint uploaded ‘as-is’ to Moodle or Canvas. It gets branded as “effective eLearning” along the way, but eventually ends with hordes of learners bored out of their wits. 


The potential of engaging eLearning content has long been stunted by practices like these. We know you found our cheat sheet because, like many, you want to develop effective and engaging eLearning content yourself. If so, awesome. We are Strawberry Solutions and you’re one step closer to being an eLearning content development rockstar. Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

Where boring eLearning content comes from

Why is it that so often, the mention of eLearning is met with sighs and huffs? Words like ‘boring’ and ‘dull’ get thrown around in the eLearning conversation. Generally, boredom comes from either being idle (i.e. a lack of stimulation or activity) or being lost (i.e. information overload). Given this, boring content either doesn’t allow for interaction or doesn’t allow for understanding.

Where does bad eLearning content come from? Well, it may be because digital technology was once just a niche alternative to traditional learning. The learning experience and learning materials were built for synchronous, traditional learning. At the time, learning online was mostly meant only as a repository for “soft copies” of learning content. 

As the digital revolution took place, new behaviours were formed among learners– behaviours that called for gamification of content, content interactivity, and self-paced learning. Unfortunately, many aren’t able to catch up. To the average educator, creating engaging eLearning content just takes too much effort and resources. 

Well, not anymore.

Content design is easier than ever

Developing effective and engaging eLearning content is no longer reserved for highly-funded educators. The advancement of eLearning technology and learning management systems means that beautiful and exciting content can be created within minutes using readily-available features, templates and platforms. 

Here are the different content development tools readily available online:

Image via Wibbitz

There is no longer an excuse for boring content. The tools are available, it now simply boils down to sheer will.

Planning for effective eLearning content

Let’s go through some top tips on keeping your course effective and engaging for the user. Here are things to consider before you get started:  

We’ll write more content about each of these points but feel free to reach out to us at Strawberry Solutions if you wish to know more!

Creating engaging eLearning content

The key to any engaging eLearning content is visuals and aesthetics. A black and white block of text is never going to grab or hold anyone’s attention. Therefore, when designing a successful and engaging eLearning platform, you need to consider the usability, final look and brand representation.

A well-presented eLearning content will grab the learners attention and keep them interested. Whether you prefer a monochromatic or a more colourful look, consistency is vital. Staying consistent throughout the content material is essential for brand representation and maintaining a clean, professional look. The use of content templates can be helpful for this. Elements such as fonts, colours, logos and layouts should stay uniform throughout. 

Having a clear and organised course structure is crucial for an engaging content experience. Prioritising key information and keeping modules short will help you avoid cognitive overload, which can hinder focus of learners. Distribute information well and incorporate graphics where possible in your content to avoid long passages of text and figures. 

There are many benefits for both the student and teacher when using interactive learning methods. Interactive learning is important for learner development and engagement, improving critical thinking and boosting creativity. 

Multiple features can be added to your eLearning content to encourage learner participation. 

  • Videos
  • Animations
  • Quizzes
  • Forum discussions 
  • Games 

Incorporating interactive elements throughout your content will appeal to multiple learning styles. This practice will assist with learner retention and success.

There is no bigger competition than yourself. Access to analytics throughout a course is a powerful way to keep learners interested and productive. In addition, the ability to access test scores and completed modules will encourage learners to continue on their eLearning courses to achieve their goals. 

Learners want something to show for their hard work. Certificates are a simple way to encourage learners to complete their courses and earn the recognition they deserve. A certificate can be printed for physical proof or incorporated into a resume, giving learners the feeling that the eLearning or training was worth their time. This piece of eLearning content is often overlooked, but designing a visually appealing certificate and backing it up with a shareable badge they can post on social media makes a huge difference in learning engagement.

More often than not, a page that doesn’t load or a video that won’t play will make the user switch off out of frustration. Avoid this by performing the appropriate testing across your content before launching your eLearning platform.

An Essential Cheat Sheet Against Boring Content

As a final note, here is a quick guide to check when assessing the effectiveness and quality your eLearning content.

  • Uses tasteful visual design elements like lines, value, color, texture, shape, size, and direction?
  • Follows visual design principles like balance, scale, contrast, visual hierarchy, and gestalt?
  • Demonstrates an understanding of color theory?
  • Makes use of appropriate font sizes and font styles for appropriate sections?
  • Consistent with branding guidelines?
  • Shows alignment to the objective of the content?
  • Can be viewed and appreciated from an angle? 
  • Can be viewed and appreciated in high or low contrast environments? 
  • Can be recognized by people of poor eyesight? 
  • Can be recognized by people with color blindness?
  • Properly rendered to optimal pixel resolution?
  • Can be viewed from a desktop, tablet, or mobile device?
  • Shows motion or animation?
  • Uses creative transitions?
  • Directs the learners focus from one object to another seamlessly?
  • Plays around with optical illusions, if any?
  • Does it use interaction design principles like affordances, navigation, interface design, and usability?
  • Does it employ gamification principles like having challenges, goals, rewards, feedback, failure, encouragement, insistence, and coaching?
  • Does it hook the user with triggers, actions, and variable rewards?
  • Is the content properly segmented throughout modules? 
  • It the presentation too rushed or just right?
  • Can learners slow down or speed up their learning in any way?
  • Were the details carefully selected and rewritten?
  • Are there citations and further readings for learners who might want more?
  • Is learning checked at regular checkpoints?
  • Are important points summarised at regular intervals?

There may be a ton more we left out. But feel free to talk to us at Strawberry Solutions if you have any more questions

In Summary: A tyranny of ‘function over form’

After this, you’ll still see badly created content. They will argue that “it doesn’t need to be pretty for it to work.” We beg to disagree. If the content isn’t engaging, it wouldn’t even have a chance to work in the first place. So to us, it’s never “function over form”. It’s “function and form”, together. The form allows function, and the function influences form. 

Now, with all this said, go create awesome, engaging, effective content– and help us end the tyranny of bad eLearning.

We are Strawberry Solutions

We are Australia’s leading content creators for the education industry. We can help your business develop innovative new learning experiences to inspire minds like never before.

We’ll help bring your lessons to life. We work with a range of clients from K-12, RTOs, higher education, corporate learning and development to the government. 

Our team consists of a talented crew of graphic designers, instructional designers, animators, video editors, voiceover artists and eLearning developers who create sophisticated, multimedia SCORM output.

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