Designing Articulate Storyline learning slides and interfaces

Make it obvious

The most effective learning interface is a clearly defined interface that allows learners to understanding what they need to do to progress through the course. Learners must be able to recognize what they need to do, understand what the interface is helping them interact with, predict what will happen when they use it, and then successfully interact with it. There is no room for confusion, especially when a learners’ primary role is to learn. Clarity inspires confidence, decreases learning frustration, and encourages success. One hundred clear screens are preferable to a single cluttered one.

Encourage interaction with learning objects

Interfaces exist to enable interaction between learners and the learning material that we create. They can help clarify, illuminate, enable, show relationships, manage our expectations, and give us access to learning information. The act of designing interfaces is not a creative process. Interfaces are created to do a job and their effectiveness can be measured. The challenge is this interfaces are more than for function. The best interfaces inspire, evoke, mystify, and intensify our relationship with learning.

Avoid distractions on your Storyline slides

We live in a world of distraction and interruption. It’s hard to learn in peace anymore without something trying to distraction us and direct our attention elsewhere. Try to keep your learner’s attention. Don’t clutter your learning interface with distractible material and remember why you are designing the screen. What is its purpose and stick to it. If someone is in the middle of learning, let them finish before interrupting with an animation or visual nicety what doesn’t add anything to the learning information. Honor attention and not only will your learners’ be happier, your results will be better. When learning is the primary goal, attention becomes the prerequisite.

Keep learners in control

Humans are most comfortable when they feel in control of themselves and their environment. As a learning designer, try not to force learners into unplanned interactions. Thoughtless learning design takes away that comfort by forcing learners into unplanned interactions, confusing pathways, and surprising outcomes. Keep users in control by regularly providing updates on a learner’s progress and explaining the expected outcome of every action. Don’t worry about stating the obvious.

 Direct manipulation is best

The best learning design goes unnoticed. Ideally, the interface and slide design should be so slight that the learner has a feeling of direct manipulation of the learning content that they are focued on. Since this is not always possible, and objects are increasingly informational, we create learning interfaces to help us interact with them. It is easy to add more layers than necessary, but whenever possible, strive for that original goal of direct manipulation…design an interface with as little a footprint as possible, recognizing as much as possible natural human gestures.

One primary action per screen

Every Storyline slide we design should support a single action of real value to the learner. This makes it easier to learn, easier to use, and easier to update when necessary. Slides that support two or more primary actions become confusing quickly. Like a written article should have a single, strong thesis, every slide we design should support a single, strong action that is the most important.

Learning slides with a single primary action can have multiple secondary actions but they need to be kept secondary. Keep secondary interaction secondary by making it lighter weight visually or display it after the learner interacts with the primary action.

Provide learners with a clear next step

Typically very few learning interactions are meant to be the last, so thoughtful learning design clearly identifies the next step for each interaction a person has with your interface. Anticipate the next learning interaction and design to support it. Create a dialog with your interaction. Just as we like in human conversation, provide an opening for further interaction. Don’t leave a person hanging because they’ve done what you want them to do…give them a natural next step that helps them further achieve their goals.

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