8 Tips To Improve eLearning Navigation Using Cohesive eLearning Course Maps
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How To Improve eLearning Navigation Using Cohesive eLearning Course Maps

There are some adventures that require you to veer off course and explore the great unknown. eLearning is not one of them. It's true, online learners benefit from self-guided exploration. But they always need a trusty eLearning course map to point them in the right direction. eLearning navigation menus ensure that your online learners always know what lies ahead, where they've been, and what's expected of them. Here are 8 top tips to develop eLearning course maps to streamline eLearning navigation.

1. Clearly Label Your Buttons

Labelling may be more challenging than it seems. You only have a limited amount of room for text in your eLearning course map. However, you still have to let online learners know where each button or link leads. This means you have to provide succinct descriptions that help online learners find the online resources they're looking for. Bear in mind that they don't have a lot of time to waste, and your eLearning course needs to give the information they need as quickly as possible. Evaluate every eLearning activity, module, and other elements that earn a spot in your eLearning course map. Then sum them up in a brief sentence. This should include the benefits and learning objectives associated with the eLearning content. Now use this "elevator pitch" sentence to create a targeted label.

2. Create Concise Drop-Down Menus

In some cases, you may not be able to fit every eLearning activity, assessment, and module onto the eLearning course map. However, they still play a crucial role in the overall eLearning experience. These occasions call for drop-down menus that feature related sub-topics or tasks. For example, the "compliance" section of the map might include health and safety online tutorials and certification online assessments. Too many items on the main eLearning course map can lead to cognitive overwhelm and confusion, while too few can devalue the eLearning experience.

3. Incorporate Familiar Icons And Terminology

Online learners generally don't like surprises when it comes to eLearning navigation. In fact, they prefer familiar icons, buttons, and terms to avoid any confusion. For example, arrows let them know that they can progress to the next page. Bright red stop signs tell them that they should pause before moving on, or that they have reached the end of the eLearning module. The same rule applies for terminology. Avoid complicated vocabulary and industry-specific jargon. Opt for language that is straight-to-the-point and clarifies instead of confuses.

4. Use Color As Focal Points

Bold hues automatically catch our attention and convey a sense of urgency. For example, a bright red text block at the top of the screen will immediately catch an online learner's eye. As such, you should use color as a guide in your eLearning course map. Tips, instructions, and important takeaways must pop off the page, while supporting materials can feature in more muted tones. Also keep in mind that colors evoke specific emotions and have different cultural meanings behind them.

5. Offer eLearning Navigation Tips Along The Way

Certain online learners may periodically need help navigating the eLearning course. On the other hand, there are others who will breeze through every eLearning module without any issue. For this reason, you should incorporate optional hints, tips, and tricks along the way. As an example, you can direct online learners to the microlearning online resource library to improve their comprehension, or remind them how to use the eLearning course navigation controls. It's also wise to pair this with a tip sheet that includes clear instructions on how to navigate the eLearning course and some of the top FAQs. This is particularly useful for new online learners who aren't already familiar with eLearning course navigation controls.

6. Make The eLearning Course Map Easily Accessible

Online learners should have the opportunity to access the main eLearning course map at any point. Even if they are in the middle of an interactive simulation or eLearning assessment. This allows them to refer back to the menu if they need to refresh their knowledge, or even if they realize that they've mistakenly skipped an eLearning module or activity. Prominently place an eLearning course map hyperlink or button on every page so that online learners can quickly access the overview. Alternatively, create a map "at-a-glance" that fits into the sidebar of your eLearning course.

7. Rely On A Responsive Design Tool

Responsive design tools are ideal for multiplatform-friendly eLearning course design. You create a master version of the eLearning course that features breakpoints, and the system automatically adjusts the layout. For example, the mobile version of the eLearning course map may include fewer images. This helps online learners focus on the contents, rather than having to swipe and scroll around the screen. Most responsive authoring tools come with a built-in previewer. As such, you're able to test out the eLearning course map on different devices and then make the necessary modifications. For instance, adjust the size of the buttons or make the hyperlinks more visible.

8. Unlock The eLearning Navigation Controls

It may be wise to give your online learners complete control over the navigation of your eLearning course. This can be applied to both linear and non-linear eLearning course formats. In the case of linear, online learners have the opportunity to access previous eLearning modules so that they aren't stuck in a strict sequence. As a result, they can brush up on skills and topics they've already covered. For non-linear eLearning courses, online learners have complete control over which eLearning activities they access, when, and how. This gives them the power to choose the learning materials that meet their specific needs and preferences.

eLearning course maps give online learners a general overview of what's in store, as well as how far they've come. As such, it not only simplifies eLearning navigation, but improves learner motivation. They have the opportunity to keep track of their own progress, and break comprehensive courses into more manageable milestones.

Is linear navigation the best solution? Or should you opt for a more non-traditional approach? Read the article The Top 6 eLearning Course Navigation Styles to find out which are the top 6 eLearning course navigation styles to consider.

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