Monthly Archives: April 2013

10 Careless Mistakes That Will Totally Ruin Your eLearning

Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Tue, Apr 30, 2013 @ 12:21 PM

careless mistakes1It’s part of your job as an eLearning course developer to polish up your material before you hit publish. A single error speaks volumes. It tells learners you’re in a hurry to even check the course or think you don’t care enough about details. Worse, it may substantially delay or prevent them from completing on time. Don’t let careless mistakes muck up your eLearning courses.

Here are 10 careless mistakes we’ve seen eLearning professionals make that have the potential to totally mess with the effectiveness of your courses:

1) Wrong or misplaced links.

They may either be in the wrong place or nowhere to be found. Links are important extensions of your course content. They point to additional resources or further explain a subject. Double check them by clicking and verifying each link. Make them clear, specific, brief and accurately labeled.

2) Lack of clear instructions.

Vague instructions for quizzes, tests and games confuse learners. This is especially important in highly interactive tasks (think drag-and-drop games) and situations where they need to interact with content on-screen. Instead of completing activities to help students check their progress, unclear instructions can frustrate them and may even discourage them from continuing the course.

3) Copyright and usage.

The Internet is the best place to scour for educational images and other materials. But it isn’t a free-for-all place. When you use an image or data, make sure you’re not violating copyright laws. Check if it’s free for educational or commercial purposes. Google Search and other image sharing services such as Flickr usually makes it clear if the image is free to use. If you’re using Google, click on the Advanced Image Search and choose “free to share or use, even commercially” in the “usage rights” box. Flickr also has an Advanced Search feature that lets you filter images by usage rights.

This doesn’t just go for images. Some research companies may offer data and statistics for a fee. Avoid getting penalized by making sure that you’re legally allowed to use a material for your specific purpose.

4) Grammar and spelling errors.

eLearning course developers are expected to master grammar and spelling. This is the most evident way of showing learners that you’re dead serious about grammar and spelling. Remember, fluency in both spoken and written language is an essential skill for learners. What’s more, errors can hurt your credibility. You may lose learners as a result. Be sure to check your material for spelling and grammar mistakes.

5) Erroneous and unformatted screen titles.

Group screen titles when checking and editing them. You can easily do this by looking at the course menu, where all titles are listed. Are your titles logically organized? Are they written consistently or based on your style guide? Also, don’t forget to fix the format of your titles and subtitles. You can keep them in bold, italics or underlined formats.

6) Videos or media not working.

Many students rely on videos and interactive content. Why not? They’re much more efficient in packing a ton of content in as little as five minutes. The problem is, videos are prone to glitches. They play but are unable to sync accurately with the audio. Or they sometimes don’t play at all. Make sure your videos are working properly by reviewing your course just before opening it for students.

7) Incorrect labeling of graphics,charts, and diagrams.

These visual tools help simplify and organize content-heavy courses. Labeled incorrectly, they can misinform or confuse learners. Take a look at each name or number and edit them separately to make sure they are correct.

8) Illegible typography

This one might seem obvious, but it’s definitely not. Great typography is a huge part of a user-friendly experience; and if yours isn’t set correctly, you’re going to be losing learners’ attention quickly.

9) Confusing navigation buttons.

Navigation is one of those things you must get right. Create a course that has a friendly direction, that includes the intuitive navigation people look for, and that’s immediately clear to the learner what to do next. Try to keep every button simple.

10) Slow loading media.

Nothing frustrates people more than waiting for an image of video to load more than five minutes. You definitely want to deliver the course’s content to them as quickly as possible. So, start by getting to know your users, specially if they have slow connections or older hardware. Then, be sure to optimize all of your media so that it loads quickly.

Our tip: Set up a checklist and make sure each of the points are covered!

So next time you create an eLearning course, check it over for these errors. It should be error free. Here’s a formula: polish and perfect it before hitting publish.

What are some other things that people do that kill eLearning courses? And how can they be avoided?

eLearning visual design course

 

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ECU community mourns loss of instructor

By Kathryn Kennedy and Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services

Co-workers and students of East Carolina University teaching instructor Debbie O’Neal are grieving this week following her death March 31.

She and her husband – both rated pilots – were killed when their fixed-wing Lancair LC-42 aircraft crashed in a Winston-Salem residential neighborhood after experiencing engine trouble, a National Traffic Safety Board official told media on Monday.

Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 3 at Rock Springs Center, 4025 N.C. Highway 43 N, Greenville.

An additional memorial service was held Tuesday, April 2 at the Washington Eye Center, where her husband, Dennis, worked.

O’Neal came to ECU in 2004, and this semester she was teaching three sections of English composition in the classroom and two distance-education sections of English grammar.

Department of English Chair Jeffrey Johnson spent Tuesday meeting with students in O’Neal’s classes, accompanied by staff from the ECU counseling center. He said the students were “taking it hard,” and many asked if they could reach out to her family.

“Her students know how invested she was in them,” Johnson said. “She was really outgoing, full of energy and ideas, generous with her time. All these qualities of hers…make (the loss) even harder.”

O’Neal was very involved in the ECU Language Academy, which provides intensive English-language instruction to international students and professionals. She also worked with the College of Education by developing ways to integrate English as a second language (ESL) teacher education into existing curriculum.

Marjorie Ringler, associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership, said she and O’Neal worked closely for years. “We were inseparable at work and as friends as well,” Ringler said Tuesday.

O’Neal was a linguist and Ringler works on partnerships with principals and school districts; together they were a great team, Ringler said. The pair recently attended an international conference in Dallas, presenting their success in teaching English as a second language in a rural eastern North Carolina school.

O’Neal engaged her classroom students as well, Ringler said, and held them to high standards.

“In the Department of English, she saw her students as her kids,” Ringler continued. “She was a mother to them because (she taught) the freshman composition class.”

She added that O’Neal kept in touch with many students and would get Facebook and email messages about how she had changed their lives. “She made sure everybody knew that she cared,” Ringler said.

“She lived life to the fullest. She was a pilot, made her own jewelry, and was always in touch with her three kids. She skied as well. What did she not do? And she tackled everything head on.”

ECU community mourns loss of instructor.