As a learner navigating through an eLearning module, did you ever get stuck on a particular slide because you were not sure about what to do next? If yes, then you have probably been a victim of an eLearning course navigational structure, which has not been designed properly.
eLearning Course Navigation Best Practices
As a seasoned eLearning professional, I firmly believe that a module should be designed in a way that the learners do not encounter any challenge while moving from one slide to another. It should never be designed in a way that keeps the learners guessing about the next move; else they will end up losing their focus very soon. Now the question is whether there should be a set of best practices for eLearning course navigation. If yes, here are 7 of them:
- Provide a single way to navigate forward.
Learners often get confused when they see multiple ways on a slide to navigate forward in the course. For instance, if there is a “Next” and a “Continue” button on the same slide. In this case, it should be either of the buttons and not both. You may consider removing one of the buttons so that the learners are not confused as which of the paths they should follow next. In some scenarios, where it is a tricky situation, you may want to add a call-out to provide clear guidance to the learner.
- Provide a tour on how to navigate through the course.
For the benefit of your learners, it is always a good idea to provide them with brief explanation of how they should navigate through the course. It need not be something elaborate. It can be as simple as a few text boxes that have instructions in them and a couple of arrows that point towards the different buttons on the slide. The various things that you may want to highlight include a way to exit, a help feature, and other navigational information that you feel is important for your learners.
- Always use short and crisp titles.
As an eLearning professional, your success will always be measured by how easily your content is digested by your learners. Hence, it is a good idea to label your links or icons clearly. For instance, you want your learners to click a button to exit the course. Start with an action verb and label it as, “Exit Course”, which is more direct, rather than “Click Here To Exit The Course”.
- Use icons that are relevant to the context of your course.
It is always better to use icons that your learners are already familiar with. For instance, a forward arrow is more relevant when you use it to direct your learners to navigate to the next page or screen. An image of a star or a flower will confuse them regarding the action they would need to perform. Also, while localizing your eLearning course, it is good to use images that are accepted globally.
- Be consistent with the placement of navigational links.
You must be absolutely clear and consistent with the placement of your eLearning course navigational links. They should be inserted in the same place on every slide. It helps the learners decide where they want to go next in the course. To be consistent with the position of the links, you can use the navigational controls that are already built in the template. It helps to avoid the slide jumps that most frequently occur when you place the links manually.
- Allow learners to view their progress.
When your learners are navigating through a course, and do not know how much they have covered so far or when the course is going to end, at times they may feel discouraged and disoriented. Therefore, it is a good idea to let your learners view their progress through different ways, for instance, by encouraging communication, providing them with immediate feedback, etc.
- Perform a thorough testing of the eLearning course navigational links before deployment.
Prior to publishing the course and sharing it with your learners, you must perform a thorough testing of the navigational links. You may also like to seek the feedback from few of your peers who have never seen the course before to check if they are facing any kind of difficulty while navigating through the eLearning course. In some cases, it happens that the course links work fine in the first instance, however, when it resumes to its initial state, it may throw up some linking errors. Hence, it is important to check every navigation link in every page.