5 Ideas for Tuning Boring Bullets into Engaging Interactions

Bullet points. They’re everyone’s favorite way to break up lots of content and highlight important information. 

But the minus to that plus is that bullets don’t present information in a way that offers much context for learners, nor do they invite learners to really engage with the content. In fact, bullet points are more typically associated with tedious presentations that “tell,” as opposed to stimulating experiences that “show.”

Effective e-learning is all about grabbing learners’ attention and getting them to think, which makes it pretty clear that bullets are less than optimal. So what are some other options? Below are five simple ideas to try.

Rely on Images

One of the easiest ways to move beyond bullets is to swap them out for something more visually stimulating and easier to absorb, like in the “after” slide below. 

Before
Before Slide

AfterAfter Slide

The entire tone of the “before” slide is lackluster and pedantic, and some of the bullets are redundant. By contrast, the “after” slide collapses duplicate bullets, groups tips around a relevant image, and engages learners with a snappy headline that’s a little more action-oriented.

This strategy of focusing on images is also a popular choice for presentation designers because it minimizes onscreen text while focusing on key messages. But relying on images to do the heavy lifting isn’t just for presentations. I think it works equally well for e-learning courses. 

Use a Clickable Image

Continuing with the theme of showing instead of telling, clickable images are another great way to reimagine a bulleted list. Let’s say you’re working on a medical course on organ systems. Instead of a bunch of bulleted text next to a picture of a human heart, wouldn’t it be much more engaging to let learners explore an animated beating heart, complete with text and video highlighting the features and functions of each part of the organ?

See for yourself with this super-cool example from Richard Hill, built using Rise 360.

Animated gif of a beating heart labeled graphic with markers in Rise 360

By adding simple hotspots to an animated GIF of a beating human heart, learners get a compelling visual that invites them to explore and learn.

That’s much more interesting and meaningful than a droning list of bullet points, don’t you think?

Create an Interactive Video 

Similar to using a clickable image, adding hotspots to video turns passive bullets into a more active, engaging experience for learners. Take this Storyline 360 download that features three ways you can use interactive video:

Image of Storyline 360 download featuring interactive video

Think video is an expensive or time-consuming option? As Nicole Legault demonstrated in Create Interactive Videos with These Storyline 360 Features, with Content Library 360 videos right at your fingertips, you have tons of options for using video in your projects.

Prefer creating your own video? Nowadays, you can easily shoot your own video with the camera on your smartphone—and edit it just as quickly using free or low-cost apps, or by using the built-in video editing feature in Storyline 360.  You can learn some more pointers for taking your own pictures or video in this article, 4 Tips for Taking Your Own Pictures for E-Learning.

Rework Bullets into a Tabs Interaction 

Probably one of the easiest ways to reimagine bullet points is as a tabbed interaction, as this brilliant Storyline 360 download from Montse illustrates. 

Tabs Interaction from Montse Anderson

Creating a tabs interaction from a bulleted list is easy. Start by morphing your bullets into steps or topics, with each key idea getting its own tab where you can expand on the idea in more detail. Not only does this approach help you chunk related information, but it invites learners to explore information at their own pace. An added bonus of tabs interactions: you’ve got a flexible layout that works equally well for creating menus and submenus!

To get started with tabbed interactions, snag this free Simple Tabs Template by Nicole Legault. Want to see how easy it is to build your own tabs interaction from scratch? Check out David Anderson’s 5 Minutes to Fantastic tutorial.

Design a Scenario 

One super-engaging way to rework static bullet points is to incorporate them into feedback for learners. Start by using some design thinking to come up with scenarios that can give learners a chance to explore, practice, and learn through their choices—like in this Rise 360 example.
Example of a scenario block built in Rise 360

This project uses a scenario block to branch to different outcomes depending on the learner’s choices. It illustrates one way you can use scenarios to help learners practice their upselling skills.

Looking for some more inspiring examples of scenarios in action? Check out the following free scenario-themed downloads.

Storyline 360: Personalized Branching Scenario by Megan McPeak

Storyline 360: Customer Service Scenario by Nicole Legault

Storyline 360: Gamified Texting Template by yours truly

Storyline 360: Choose a Random Scenario by Nicole Legault

Swapping boring bullets for enticing interactions doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time—just a little creativity. I hope the examples I’ve shared spark your imagination and inspire you to think of new ways of presenting information. 

What’s your favorite alternative to a bulleted list? Have an inspiring e-learning example to share? We’d love to see it! Leave me a comment below, or share your ideas in our Build Better Courses forum.

Want to try something you learned here, but don’t have Articulate 360? Start a free 30-day trial, and come back to E-Learning Heroes regularly for more helpful advice on everything related to e-learning. If you have any questions, please share them in the comments.

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John Morley