While navigating an e-learning course, have you ever become stuck on a slide, unsure of what to do or where to click? If so, you were the victim of poorly designed e-learning navigation. E-learning courses must have simple and straightforward navigation that doesn’t leave learners guessing their next move. Illuminate the path for your learners with these tips for creating crystal-clear course navigation.
Offer a course navigation tour
One of the easiest ways to make your course easier to navigate is to provide a tour or brief explanation within the first few slides of your course. It can be as simple as textboxes with instructions or arrows that point out the buttons learners need to click to advance. If there’s a help button, a way to exit the course, a glossary, or any other navigational waypoints, you should point those out as well.
If you can, make the navigation tour optional; no one likes having to click through tutorial slides every time they take a course. But make sure it’s readily available for learners who need a little extra help to get comfortable with your course.
Provide one clear way forward
Eliminate redundant navigational elements. Learners get confused when there are multiple ways to do the same thing on a single slide.
For example, if there’s a Next button in your slide navigation controls and a Continue button on the slide, which should they choose? Pick one and remove the other, then keep that navigation consistent throughout your course (see the next tip).
When there’s only one path to take, it reduces frustration and avoids “What do I do next?” moments. Don’t be afraid to include text callouts, but if your learners have to rely on them to navigate your course, you need to make revisions.
Be consistent with layout and placement
A clear and consistent navigation layout helps your learners make quick decisions about where to go next in your course. Don’t make your learners go on a scavenger hunt! Your navigation links should be in the same place on every slide.
For consistent positioning, use the player’s built-in navigation controls or the slide master for buttons and links that appear across multiple slides. This ensures elements don’t move around from one slide to the next.
Use short and descriptive titles
Content is easier to digest when it’s presented in short, direct messages that don’t need to be deciphered. Label your navigation icons and links clearly. Use action verbs to indicate what the user is going to do.
For example, “Start Quiz” is a clear and immediate call to action, whereas “Click Here to Begin the Lesson One Quiz” might be accurate but is harder to parse.
Let learners know where they stand
Learners can become disoriented and discouraged when they don’t have any progress markers. Give the folx taking your course a clear way to view their progress. If that’s not an option, make sure you provide them with periodic updates (say, after they’ve completed a lesson) to show them how far they’ve come and how much content they’ve yet to complete. Progress motivates and can stoke interest, especially during long courses.
Test your navigation thoroughly
Click through your course in every way possible. Try every button and link. Test every navigation path your learner could potentially follow. Fix linking errors you find along the way. Don’t be afraid to second-guess your earlier design decisions. A slide can look perfect at first, but then, as your course grows around it, you realize it’d be better to have it reset instead of resume. Course navigation is organic and needs to be flexible to accommodate your evolving content.
Before you publish and share your course with learners, enlist a few colleagues who’ve never seen the course to do a thorough navigation walkthrough. Note where they hesitate or get stuck, then use your observations to make improvements.
These tips will help you design clear navigation for your e-learning course that’s easy for your learners to use. Keep in mind, learners who don’t have to worry about navigating your course can focus on its awesome content!
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