When it comes to e-learning, almost all courses are made up of the same basic components. Whether you’re creating a simple micro-learning or a complex branching course, you’ll probably have text,  images, other forms of multimedia, and buttons that help learners interact with your content. In this article, we’ll tackle the five most common elements of e-learning along with best practices for using each one. 


The text content of your course is arguably the most important, as in most cases it’s the primary way you’ll share information with learners. But if you’ve ever taken e-learning that was too text-heavy, you know firsthand it can be a real turnoff! That’s why it’s best to use text in moderation. Write clearly and concisely and only include information learners absolutely need to know.

It’s also superimportant to check your course for spelling, grammar, and punctuation before you finalize and publish it. Having someone else review your project with a fresh set of eyes is helpful because they’ll see details that you might skip over out of familiarity. The last thing you want is for a misspelling or incorrect usage of a word to confuse your learners and distract them from focusing on what’s most important: your content. 

Get your e-learning writing in tip-top shape with these helpful resources: 


In some cases, replacing text with images can help you streamline your course content and enhance the learning experience. That’s because a well-chosen image can often communicate key messages more quickly and effectively than text. On top of that, visually appealing courses help boost learner engagement. 

To ensure your images are making an impact,  take time to choose quality images that are both relevant and meaningful. Avoid using images just for the sake of having them in your course. Only use images if there’s a real instructional value. For every graphic or image you insert, think about the purpose it serves for the learner. If it’s not boosting learner engagement or reinforcing the key skills you’re trying to teach, reconsider whether you should include it in your course. 

Start curating the perfect graphics for your e-learning with these helpful articles:


Similar to images, videos are a handy way to capture attention and present information visually. However, their combination of imagery, motion, and audio can add clarity to some concepts and help capture stories and nuances in a more exciting way.

Videos are also useful if you want to demonstrate a complicated process. Sometimes it’s easier to learn a new system or job assignment by watching someone perform the task rather than simply reading a list of steps. 

You can even take your e-learning up a notch with interactive videos. By incorporating quiz questions or providing additional information, you can engage learners and make sure they’re paying close attention to your video. 

Explore more ways to incorporate video into your e-learning with these handy resources:


Another way to enhance the learning experience is by adding audio to your courses. Audio in e-learning can take many forms. It could be as simple as subtle sound effects or as extensive as complete course narration. 

Used effectively, audio can draw learners in and help focus their attention on the course content. But be careful not to overdo it. Too many sound effects can be distracting—or, worse, overwhelming—to learners. And if your course narration simply repeats the text that’s already included on-screen, you could lose learners’ attention quickly. Similar to the approach you take with course text and imagery, always evaluate whether the audio you’re adding to your course enhances the learning experience. If it doesn’t, you might be better off skipping it. 

Get expert advice on how to intentionally use audio in e-learning with these essential articles: 


Whether it’s a “Prev” and “Next” button or a menu that lets learners click through the various sections of the course, you need to give learners a way to interact with your content. While often neglected, the way you design your buttons and other navigational elements can be just as important as the information you present. 

That’s because if learners don’t know how to move forward, they’ll waste time and energy trying to figure out how to interact with your content instead of trying to understand it. For this reason, it’s important to ensure that course navigation is clear and obvious to learners. They shouldn’t have to click around to find the right way forward or wonder what they need to do next. Clearly label and identify all navigation items in your course, and include callouts or instructions for anything that isn’t inherently intuitive.

Find best practices for making e-learning course navigation simple and straightforward: 


If you follow the guidance outlined in the helpful resources included above, you’ll be well on your way to creating engaging, effective e-learning courses in no time at all. And next time you’re taking an online course, keep your eyes peeled for these five basic elements of e-learning. Chances are, you’ll spot them in just about every course you take.

Do you know of any additional e-learning elements that we forgot to include in this list? If you do, please leave a comment below—we love to hear your feedback!

Follow us on Twitter 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.