Course Backgrounds: Between Reality And Fantasy


Get Caught Up In The Details Of Your Backdrops

Characters, text, dialogue, buttons: these are the primary features of an online course. They are the elements that learners are going to interact with the most, whether it’s through buttons, hotspots, and/or dials. One element that Instructional Designers are at risk of overlooking is not at the front of the slide design—it’s at the back. You might be tempted to think that the background of each screen is less important because it is buried behind all the aforementioned elements, but this couldn’t be further from the truth! Here are 3 reasons why you should spend extra time carefully designing your course backgrounds.

1. Sets The Stage For Your Entire Course

You only have a short window to make a good impression on your learners, so you better do it fast! The first couple of screens are integral to this because they are the initial screens that learners will interact with. You want to create those introductory backgrounds with gusto and practically excessive, but prudent, creativity. Draw the learner in so that they are mesmerized by the detail and intricacies of what they are seeing. This means you need to stay away from solid color backgrounds, overly patterned backgrounds, or irrelevant and busy backgrounds. It will take effort to find or create the right background, but you do not want to lose learner attention before you even have a chance to grab it. Whatever impression they get at the outset is going to set the stage for the duration of the course, so why not make sure the impression is a good one?

2. Builds A Connection With Learners

A major trend in eLearning is personalization. Learners want to see themselves in the characters, the conversations, and of course, the content. One of the most effective ways you can do this is through your screen backgrounds. For instance, if your learner audience is hospital staff then it would be worthwhile to design your background to match the actual hospital that the staff members work in. From larger details, like adding in the same type of nametags onto characters and custom signage, to smaller details, like corporate colors and company posters on a bulletin board, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to spark a connection. People want to be seen and heard and everyone wants to know that they matter, even in minor things. Building that connection, or rather, building their world for them in a virtual environment, is a great way to show them that they’ve been seen and appreciated.

3. Brings Harmony To Your Entire Course

Every course has a certain theme—whether you’re conscious of it or not. As an ID, the preference is that you’re conscious of your course theme! But seriously, the primary way to promote course harmony is to create all your backgrounds with the same caliber. So no, you should not be using the same background for every screen. Learners will be able to tell when and where you have taken shortcuts. If you do this, you are telling the learner that not even you, as the course designer, have bought into what they are reading, and that’s a scary message. Each background needs to be created with meaning and thoughtfulness. It’s easy to want to skip out on it and slap on a generic, canned background and fade it behind the other screen elements, but avoid the temptation! Your backgrounds should have a unified appearance that makes the learning experience both enjoyable and immersive.

When you are creating an online course you are not just creating a course; you are creating an entire learning experience. The best experiences are those you get lost in, like falling in love or owning a dog (extra points if the doggo is extra fluffy), so why should it be any different with education? While some may say it is better not to get lost in the details, I am saying precisely the opposite. Get so caught up in the details of your backdrops that you blur the lines between reality and fantasy. This is a surefire way to make both your learners and your clients come back for more!


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