Useful "Sayings" for eLearning

I was surfing sites today, and came across a saying that works well for explaining eLearning - "The Bikini Principle":

"Long enough to cover all the important parts, but short enough to keep things interesting".

I quite like that, (sexism apart...), because it gets an important Instructional Design principle over in "non-ID speak".

What other sayings do people use when trying to do the ID-to-real-person translation exercise?


9 Replies
Zara Ogden

Everyone or mostly know S-M-A-R-T goals...Their the best kind






Although non-IDmy favorite mnemonic is BEDMAS. I will never forget my crazy 7th grade teach and will always remember my order of operations. 







And Bruce I love the Bikini Principle...never heard of that one.

Steve Flowers

For project management in digital solution development I use the "states of matter" to explain expanding complexity that should discourage changes and scope creep late in the project. It starts out as gas, moves to liquid, then to jell-o (these are the easier things to change as we get into the draft planning stages), once it gets to the firmed storyboard or blueprint stage and requirements are solidified it moves to wet concrete. If you want to leave handprints and signatures in wet concrete, that's ok. But don't expect to tear up the forms and change the path. And once we get to set concrete stage it's going to be expensive to chip away and remake it.

Another analogy I picked up along the way is the hot air balloon. It's better to have your customers, stakeholders, and SME's in the balloon basket with you all along the way. If you're in that basket by yourself, it's only you that's going to crash to the earth when those you excluded start shooting holes in the balloon.

I'm also a huge fan of layers in explanations. I use a paint analogy to relate the fact that our training product doesn't define the entire solution. In many cases our products are merely primer or wax. To keep things up we may have to apply more wax later on. If we want the paint to stick we've got to pay attention to our preparation (primer).

Bruce Graham

Steve Flowers said:

I'm also a huge fan of layers in explanations. I use a paint analogy to relate the fact that our training product doesn't define the entire solution. In many cases our products are merely primer or wax. To keep things up we may have to apply more wax later on. If we want the paint to stick we've got to pay attention to our preparation (primer).

Love that - very nice.

May have to steal that one


Alexander Covan

Anyone have some short snappy research supporting the value of "rich media" (ie: Articulate style lectures) in learning?

I need some ammunition to support our online faculty in their war against the Instructional Design Team.

For some reason... not articulated, the ID team is turning away from our multimedia voiceover lectures towards HTML "lectures" with graphic inserts... very 1995. 

Everyone who has discovered this new "philosophy" (we suspect it is laziness and inexperience) is appalled.

James Brown

Not to be a kill joy but I can see where they are coming from and I kind of agree with them. We all know higher education has taken a hit lately in funding.  As a professional techie and ID Designer it sounds like the ID staff is simply trying to cut costs, save hard drive space, reduce bandwidth and make better use of the man power by simplifying things. Face it, voiced over presentations can get rather large and if you have a large number of faculty members the amount of server space required to house these lectures could be taxed. By going back to HTML with graphic inserts, you reduce the amount of space needed on the server and it does not require an ID designer to update a notes page. This can be put back on the educator which in turn frees the ID staff up to do other important projects. 

The other thought that comes to mind is they feel that online lecture notes do not need to presented using Adobe Presenter and by not renewing the license, they cut costs. Personally as long as you put your notes in an attached PDF along with a MP3 that's all you really need for lecture notes. Of course there is always the option of a pod cast.

I understand you may not like the idea of what the propose but as a certified online instructor, I can honestly tell you that as long as you provide your lecture notes in the form of a PDF along with a MP3, your students should not complain. This was the format Boise State uses in a lot of their online courses and if I had questions about the lecture, I could easily contact the instructor and get clarification.

Steve Flowers

I'll agree with James. But for a different reason.

It's situational, but as a learner sometimes all I want is a quick scan of a well laid out article with sharp illustrations and well designed focus. Sometimes that narrated presentation is really keen and helpful. Other times it's simply a droning voice that accompanies a droning presentation. In these cases I'd really rather read.  In some cases I like to rapidly compare passages (reading is a fast and natural way to assimilate information, humans do it all the time) For students that need that extra oomph, you can always tailor a quick 5 minute "didn't get it in the article, here's another way to look at it" and wa-la. Fixed with two layers of focus without committing an entire lecture to a synched media presentation piece.

As James mentions, an audio recording and lecture notes or article series are going to be just as effective from an instructional standpoint as a linear slideshow in most cases. In some cases less effective than a synched presentation (as in cases where synchronization of presentation elements with the narrative overlay can assist with sequencing of concepts). In some cases more effective than a synched presentation (when conveyance doesn't depend heavily on a visual channel and comparison convenience is beneficial).

I'd recommend figuring out which situations will be best served with a synchronized presentation element (some will), which will benefit most from a print / screen article style hybrid, and which don't matter (which will probably be cheapest and easiest to maintain in an article style). This way you can get a measured "best of all worlds" result without throwing any babies out with any bathwater.

Alexander Covan

Some of the issues may be relevant if presented by the ID team... we are a for profit education company. 

I could see this as an opportunity to focus on actual interactions. However...

  • There are NO audio notes or PDF downloads in this new format (we actually had both available in the old format)
  • The cost of audio recording was our ONLY cost associated with media... our internal team could produce everything else needed

More importantly, the new format is being implemented without the kind of judgement necessary to make it effective.

An example would be a new science course utilizing unmodified publisher content. The HTML page includes an audio loops of birds chirping and someone whistling ... interjected by someone making loud lip smacking noises and saying, "oooohhhh, ahhhhhh".

Students have no ability to turn this off. 

This is obviously a major distraction... with no educational value. .

It would be quite easy to identify which embedded media contains this and either remove it entirely or request a version from publisher without the audio.... or rebuild the interaction without this. 

How does any self-respecing ID allow this to be put into a course that people are paying for? 

Other examples include:

  • The layouts are 5-10 "printed pages" equivalent on one HTML page... and people don't respond well to that
  • There is no visual focus other than "scan downwards"
  • Image thumbnails can be expanded with old school HREF target="_new" but have no reminders or reference in text ("see fig 11 to left" other than at top of page)

The faculty who have seen this are literally horrified... I had one faculty go on a 45 min. rant about how this was putting us back 10 years during a production meeting.