Adobe's e-Learning site provides a wealth of information to help users of Captivate. I found a brief article by StevePixel (probably not his real name) that recaps some important points about design for e-learning.
He starts with a wonderfully illustrative telling of Moses coming down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments. The Israelites knew immediately, he says, that Moses was about to convey something of weight by the appearance of the tablets, because of the stone rather than parchment, the careful carving of the letters. The author makes the point that your learners are judging you from the first moment they open your e-learning. Their opinion of your skill and the worth of the course begins immediately. “After all if you don’t care as the designer, why should they?” he asks rhetorically.
After all if you don’t care as the designer, why should they?
Other questions he poses for the designer:
- Does it load quickly and without issues?
- Is it professionally scripted and narrated or did someone just wing it with a laptop mic?
- Is there a cohesive custom color design or did they use a stock PowerPoint template?
- Is it tightly scripted and logically organized or a rambling mess?
- Are the graphics (photos, infographics) relevant to the lesson, or just thrown in randomly?
- Is there mixed media (video, animations etc.,) or just stock photos?
- Does it respect their intellect in tone and delivery or treat them like children?
These principles are not new, but bear considering. The ideal situation is for the learner not to even notice the surroundings of the e-learning and focus exclusively on the content. But always keep in mind that the learner is storing up those observations subconsciously and will know that your course is worthy of her time when she sees what care you take to design your e-learning.