I can't tell you how often I have trained faculty where the whole climate of the room changes when I share design tools and assets. Eyes light up, jaws drop, and the room is filled with oohs and aahs when I share a tool as simple as Da Button Factory. Why? Most instructors want to have a good looking course! Maybe they have seen some courses that have pretty pictures and other attractive, or even compelling design assets that really make the course "pop!" They see courses that others have created and want their courses to be equally appealing. Kudos to these teachers!
When designing a course, it is imperative that we step into the shoes of our learners. Consider the advice Atticus Finch so wisely offered his daughter in the classic tale, To Kill a Mockingbird: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view." Our courses should not be a place to simply unload a bunch of information to our students. Rather, our objective should be to connect with them!
How can we connect with our students? If we can create a learning experience that is familiar to them, one that leverages tactics that will captivate them, then we stand a better chance of connecting with, and engaging these learners. They will eventually spend hours of their time working through our material, so these courses should be providing a comfortable and even enjoyable environment that is conducive to learning. Many educators know this. I think this is why everyone gets so excited when they are introduced to design tools that can "snazz up" their courses.
Several years ago, at the request of a University, I offered a training which focused on encouraging teachers to integrate more videos and images throughout their courses. After doing some research on how people ages 15 and older spend their time, I shared the following statistics to help illustrate how media can help us connect with our students:
What do you suppose many of your students do when they are not studying or working?
According to the USDOL, Bureau of Labor Statistics “Watching TV" was the leisure activity that occupied the most time (2.8 hours per day), accounting for about half of leisure time, on average, for those age 15 and over. Socializing, such as visiting with friends or attending or hosting social events, was the next most common leisure activity.
Television is a $36 Billion industry
Movies and Video Production is a $29 Billion industry
Movie theaters alone sold an estimated $10.84 billion worth of tickets domestically in 2012. An estimated 1.365 billion tickets were sold in North America in 2012.
So, what happens when our students spend all hours of the day engaging with images and video on Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, and Youtube (to name a few) and then they come to our course only to be greeted with walls of text and bullet points? The reality is that we can have a great course, with phenomenal content, but if it is designed with little thought or care about visual aesthetics and captivating media content, then we might be missing opportunities to truly connect with, and engage our learners.
Some instructors want to enhance their courses but often don't know where to find visual assets or other engaging resources which they can integrate into their courses.
In order to assist these zealous educators and anyone who wants to implement something to enhance their courses, I have created a collaborative document that any member of this Instructional Designers group can "Edit" to add links/descriptions of resources that can help us better connect with our students!