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KISS Your eLearning

So you might be wondering, how do you give your eLearning a big smooch? That’s not the type of “kiss” I’m talking about. I’m referring to an old acronym coined by Kelly Johnson and has been around since the 1960’s.


Another variation of the acronym is: Keep It Simple and Straightforward. That’s a good one too. To hit home the power of keeping things simple I suggest watching this video:

(Click here to view on YouTube.)  


So here are the five ways on how to KISS your eLearning courses:

1. Don’t Forget Who Your Audience Is

You might be experts on the course material, or you could be working with an expert to help gather the information. However it’s important to remember who’s taking the course. We’re trying to increase a learner’s knowledge, and it’s imperative that they can understand the content. The trick is to design training at a level the learner will understand. Don’t write content at a level that only an expert would understand. It’s an art for an expert to write simple content. (Learn more: Tips for Designing Courses for Experts and Beginners.)

2. Don’t “Show-off”

Just because we know the content really well doesn’t mean that we need to show-off. The course content should cover the essential material that the learner must know, and not be stuffed with tons of extra material that we added just because we can. Don’t add superlative information into the course that distracts from the important concepts. (Learn more: Tips to Write Better eLearning.)

3. Get Rid of the Acronyms

Funny… this whole post is about an acronym, but I’m suggesting that you get rid of them. (LOL… Evil laugh.) Anyway, acronyms can really confuse learners. I think that we’ve all been in a situation like this. For example, you’re in a meeting and someone uses an acronym, and everyone in the room just nods as thought they are totally following along. In your mind, you’re thinking, “What in the world does that mean?”. Most people don’t want to feel dumb. I suggest avoiding acronyms in training courses, especially in new hire courses. However, there will be times when acronyms are an important part of the job. Just make sure that they are well explained and offer a glossary for reference. (Maybe even a nice printable handout to keep at their desk.)

4. Images/Videos Are Better Than Text

People scan courses. We tend to scan everything that we see first before actually digging in and reading the content. Engaging images can be the tipping point to actually digging into the text, especially for visual learners. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, imagine how much you can communicate through video. (Learn more: Reasons Why Video Is a Fantastic Medium for Training.)

5. Don’t Be Too Formal

Some organizations want to be formal and think that a conversational tone is unprofessional. My thought has always been that self-directed learning is a “personal” activity. It’s just between the computer and the learner. So to me it would make sense speaking conversationally and directly to the learner.

In a recent Learning Solutions article, Ruth Clark touches on this topic, “Based on the work of Reeves and Nass, Mayer and others have established that learning programs that engage the learner directly by using first and second person language yield better learning than the same programs that use more formal language.”

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