Learning Minimalist: How To Cut The Clutter In Online Training
A trend we’ve picked from Millennials is simplicity. Minimalism may not be what they aimed for, but it’s the end result. This generation operates on limited possessions and a clinical approach to life. They live on bare essentials and invest in experiences rather than tangible purchases. In online training, this mode of thinking expresses differently. It results in concise, focused learning materials. The reduced material generates targeted online training content and can make it easier to learn. With less superfluous information, the corporate learner can zone into what’s really important. How can you follow this learning minimalist principle from the onset?
6 Tips To De-Clutter Your Course Design
1. Storyboard Your Online Training Content
When you’re putting together an online training course, it can be hard to know how much detail you need. It’s tempting to cram every bit of knowledge into the online training course. This would make it dense and impractical. Instead of writing out chapters and pages, create an eLearning storyboard. It goes screen by screen, with a single concept or idea per slide. This gives you a clearer picture, because by the time you get to 200 screens, you’re rethinking content volumes. It’s also easier to declutter when your medium is visual. It doesn’t have to be detailed – begin with broad strokes. eLearning storyboards also give you the opportunity to create a sense of cohesion. Rather than developing all the online training content, then realizing that it’s fragmented or lacks a centralized theme.
2. Audit Ruthlessly
Once you have all your planned online training content, start chopping. An experienced learning minimalist can tell at a glance which slides can be omitted. It can also be helpful in getting the flow right. You can rearrange screen order or move content from one chapter to another. If in doubt take it out, but remember to keep discarded slides. You may need that content later, or you might want to condense it for existing slides. Get an outside eye to help – as the creator, you’re probably biased. You might even consider inviting a select group of employees to participate in a test round. They can give their eLearning feedback regarding the overall look and feel of the online training course. As well as if they learned anything from the online training experience, or if clutter got in the way.
3. Use Negative Space
Think about your house on cleaning day. Or even on a regular day. When there are cushions on the floor and laundry on the chairs, the house looks dirty. These items could all be clean, but the clutter questions your hygiene. Your learning minimalist online training content is the same way. If there are lots of images and icons squeezed onto the page, your online training content looks cluttered and unprofessional. Corporate learners don’t know where to focus on and throwing their eyes all over the page affects their retention levels. Stick to a single visual per page, with lots of blank space. It creates mental ‘breathing space’. You should also avoid cluttered backgrounds that steal the spotlight. There’s no shame in going with a plain backdrop and letting the visuals, text, and multimedia be the star of the show.
4. Layer Your Layout
The difference between a physical book and an online document is animation. Paper books are static, but with eLearning eBooks and digital content, you can bounce around. Online training content can be clustered in pop-ups, light boxes, drop-downs, or opt-in slide shows. There should be minimal wording on the screen at any one time. Additional text can be linked from appendices, or they can be accessed by hovering. This can also make the pages themselves lighter, allowing them to load faster. Go for brevity and clarity.
5. Reevaluate Your Learning Objectives
The ultimate goal of a learning minimalist is to have an online training course that gives employees all the information they need in a way that’s easy to understand. But you need to evaluate why you created the online training course in the first place and what you hope to achieve. Take a closer look at the learning objectives and desired outcomes, and determine which visuals, text blocks, and activities support them. Anything that doesn’t fall in line with the learning goals should go by the wayside. For example, the photo on the intro page does stir up enough interest to grab employees’ attention. But does it really sum up the subject matter or convey the right tone? Or does it merely provide aesthetic appeal, instead of giving them a sneak peek of what’s to come? Everything in your eLearning course design has to earn its place by serving a purpose.
6. Curate Regularly
Once the online training course is launched, that’s not the end of it. Review it periodically, updating online training content and removing clutter. Take advantage of advances in tech to make your online training course better. Incorporate heat maps and analytics to guide your decluttering and redesigning efforts. Gather eLearning feedback from employees to spot areas for improvement and gauge their knowledge retention. For example, LMS reports show that your health and safety compliance online training course has a high rate of failure. Or that employees are taking much longer to complete it than expected. This may be a tell-tale sign that clutter is getting the better of your employees and causing cognitive overload.
Clutter in the home interrupts your peace of mind. In an online setting, messy layouts can distract corporate learners and interfere with their learning process. That’s why you should become a learning minimalist. Start your eLearning content development process with an eLearning storyboard, then audit carefully to make sure each panel is relevant. Allow for lots of ‘white space’ to ease content absorption. Deliver information in chunked layers so there’s only a little to consume at a time. Keep text on the screen to a minimum, and review your online training content regularly, culling and cutting as needed. Ensure your online training course is clean, easy to navigate, and offers intuitive reference tools.
Do you need to do some major housekeeping to improve knowledge retention and cut the clutter? Is your current tool up to the task? If not, it may be time to invest in new rapid authoring software that makes content upkeep and revisions stress-free.