In the weeks since the Deepwater Horizon, news agencies have produced dozens of interactive graphics, timelines, videos and infographics covering every angle of the event.
This wealth of interactive graphics offers e-learning designers a rare opportunity to view and analyze multiple design models and approaches on a single topic.
Here are three ways e-learning designers can benefit and learn from these interactive projects.
What I like even more than the diverse visual designs, is the variety of multimedia storytelling techniques used. Timelines, maps, interactive graphics are used to tell the story from different angles – different perspectives.
The variety in design models also keeps the story fresh for readers.
- Interactive timelines: Example 1 | Example 2 | Example 3
- Interactive maps: Example 1 | Example 2 | Example 3
- Interactive graphics: Example 1 | Example 2 | Example 3
- Animations and video: Example 1 | Example 2 | Example 3
- Photo slideshows: Example 1 | Example 2 | Example 3
- Infographics: Example 1 | Example 2 | Example 3
That’s a lot of inspiration and possibilities. The more you view graphics and animations as equal players in your e-learning designs, the better equipped you’ll be for developing more engaging courses.
Respect the learner
“Respect your learners.” How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said it?
One way we respect our learners is by respecting their time. This means designing courses that aren’t pre-determined by arbitrary seat-times.
The takeaway from the oil spill interactives is just how short and targeted they are. In most cases, the multimedia interactions are used to provide visual context to the story, not replace it.
You have options
E-learning design is more than text-filled slides with images used as devices for filling whitespace. And if there’s one takeaway after viewing the dozens of excellent oil spill projects, it’s this:
There’s no one, “right” way to design e-learning!
I know this is a different industry. Visual journalism emphasizes engaging and informing over assessing and performing. But when you really break it down, the multimedia objectives are the same.
Both industries have research-based rules and models that guide their design choices, but at the end of the day, this isn’t an exact science.
The oil spill projects were created by some of the best graphics reporters. Hopefully the examples encourage e-learning designers to release any attachments to a single design model and explore new techniques for building courses.
One of the things that draws so many of us to e-learning and instructional design is the opportunity for creative and self-expression.
Sure, our clients, SMEs and project owners have the final word, but remember your audience – the learner. Help them learn rather than pacifying the folks leaning over your shoulder.
What do you think?
As you review the projects, ask yourself:
- Which projects do I like? Dislike?
- Are there projects too far outside my or my company’s comfort zone?
- Which project is most likely something I could try?
- How can I use an interactive map, timeline or graphic in my next course?