Shaking up e-learning “design” – little help?

This is a plea for pointers, suggestions and direct assistance.

It arises from the confluence of at least three separate threads over the last couple of days:

  1. Some talk on Cloudworks about motivating teachers to use technologies;
  2. A blog post and associated presentation about bringing aspects of game design to boring tasks; and
  3. My current task on developing BIM, particularly the interface.

The premise

It’s moderately difficult to motivate students and staff to engage with e-learning technology. Most e-learning technology has boring, if not actively complex and disheartening, interfaces. Insights from game design and other areas offer an opportunity to make some improvements which may in turn help make it more likely for people to use and enjoy e-learning technology.

The difficulty

Most e-learning technology is designed by techno-nerds (e.g. myself). Most nerds suck at interface/experience design.

My current designs for BIM illustrate this quite effectively. But then so do most of the interface/experience designs that I see with Moodle activities/modules. Let’s not get started on some of the commercial LMS/VLEs.

One of the reasons BIM is designed to allow students to use external blogs (like WordPress) is that the interface/experience design is just so much better.

The desire

There’s a definite experience gap between the students/staff using an external blog service like WordPress and then having to come back to occasionally use BAM/BIM. It would be great to try and make the design of BIM engaging, different, fun, interesting….More like and vimeo, perhaps even better.

The first iteration won’t achieve this goal. Timelines too short. But playing with re-designs that draw on these principles would be an interesting, and hopefully fun, little project.

Little help?

Given that I currently suck at this type of interface/experience design, I need a little help in the shape of books, blogs, websites, interested folk and general advice on what principles might guide such a project.

Please make suggestions below. Feel free to volunteer.

Resources I’m already aware of:

2 thoughts on “Shaking up e-learning “design” – little help?

  1. derekbruff

    I’m not sure if this is what you’re looking for, but Steve Krug’s book Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability was recently recommended by Garr Reynolds on his blog. Reynolds wrote the book Presentation Zen, which is a fantastic resource for designing slideware (e.g. PowerPoint) presentations that have visual impact. I suspect that any Web usability book Reynolds recommends would be worth reading.

    1. Thanks for the pointer Derek. Will follow this up.

      The title “don’t make me think” captures a little of what I’m looking for, but there’s also a potential negative/difference with some of the above resources.

      My vague understanding is that the aim of “games design” (using this term in the broadest sense) is to make it interesting and fun, not so easy you don’t have to think.

      Will have to follow up and see what approach the book takes. The Presentation Zen site looks like it is down at the moment. Pity.

      Thanks again.

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