This is the ultimate post for anyone who’s using Joomla as an educational tool. We asked educators to share their most important tips, summarized them and compiled the following list. It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice to Joomla or a seasoned professional looking for additional insight. There is something here for you:
Attractiveness – eLearning courses should look good in order to secure engagement. It’s worth taking some time to locate a Joomla template that looks and feels right, as well as doing additional tweaking as needed.
Brevity – This is a fundamental rule of website content writing, and it still makes good sense in the educational context. Electronic Learning materials should be as clear as possible, and to this effect you should focus on using simple sentences and breaking up paragraphs to increase legibility on a screen.
Colors – Usually you should keep these to a minimum; it’s better to choose a palette of 3-4 colors and use them consistently, rather than going overboard trying to make the presentation look cute. If you’re producing eLearning materials for an institution, make sure to use their official colors.
Design – While you don’t necessarily have to enlist the help of a Designer, you should try to think like one. Golden rule: Less is more. Everything that appears on a page should have a purpose, and that purpose should be clear. Avoid cluttering your pages or mixing up topics in a page.
Expectations – Make sure the expectations of the students are aligned with yours by providing clear introductions to each unit explaining in simple terms what is the point of that unit.
Fonts – Do not overuse fonts, and try to keep usage consistent. Pick one for titles, one for the body text, maybe one for side-notes and quotes. Resist the temptation of using cutesy fonts like Comic Sans or handwritten fonts. If you don’t want to put much thought into picking fonts, just stick to the standards like Helvetica, Arial, Times New Roman or similar.
Games – Just because you’re developing educational material, it doesn’t mean it has to be all work and seriousness. Mixing in some games with the content strategically can be a nice way to keep the learning experience interesting. Don’t make it random, though; all elements should be relevant and add to the topics being presented.
Historic – Consider adding an in-page historic of navigation so students will be able to keep sight of the units they’ve been through already.
Interactivity – interactive elements are proven to help students cement knowledge by promoting engagement; use them whenever possible, even if it’s just as simple as clicking a picture to expand a caption.
Jokes – Interspersing relevant jokes, cartoons and humorous pictures in the content can be a nice way to keep the learner engaged. Just make sure not to overdo it, otherwise it could detract from the learning experience.
Knowledge – This should be the main focus of all eLearning materials, so you need to always ask yourself when reviewing each unit: is the relevant knowledge being conveyed in the right way?
Learning – It’s a state of mind. Rather, there are states of mind more conducing to learning. Reduce distractions, make an engaging presentation, and always go from general to particular.
Multitasking – It should not be encouraged throughout eLearning module. Keep the student’s attention on the page, except maybe when adding external references that add further light on a topic.
Name – Asking the students to fill in their names at the beginning of the course and keeping their names and class displayed on screen at all times will convey a sense of institutional seriousness that should help promote a beneficial learning environment.
Opinions – Consider adding a feedback form at the end of each unit, gathering opinions from students who just went through the unit. This can give you valuable insight into what you’re doing right and what can be improved.
Performance tips – Whenever quizzes or tests are calculated automatically, make sure to add a message along with the score, offering some pointers on how the students should proceed to improve their current marks.
References – Make sure to keep references substantial as to encourage students to read further into a subject. You should add references directly as hyperlinks, rather than just pasting them together at the end of the unit.
Scrolling - It’s usually best to keep your pages short so that everything will fit on the screen without any scrolling is needed. Too much information at a glance can be overwhelming and encourage skimming.
Titles – Use them cleverly to summarize the course materials as you go through them. A good title should invite the student to read the subsequent text to get more information.
Units – Always make sure to divide your courses in clear-cut units, brought together by a table of contents at the beginning of each learning module.
Videos – As with jokes and games, videos can be a great asset if used sparingly. It’s best to embed videos at the end of the unit so it won’t break the flow of reading and learning.
White Space – Use plenty of white space to keep your pages from looking too cluttered. This will increase legibility of and help students stay focused on the lesson.
X-Factor – It’s you. When you get familiar with the tools and all the best practices, you’ll be likelier to develop better courses. But what really makes the difference at the end of the day is passion and attention to detail… that’s how magic happens and truly effective eLearning modules are made.
Yardsticks - Whenever possible try to show a progress bar so the student will know how far they are along a given unit or test; this will encourage students to follow through, by providing a clear sight on the goal.
Zeitgeist - Does your Joomla conform to the spirit of the days, or does it look boring and old-fashioned? It’s a good idea to browse through successful eLearning materials to get a sense of what’s working.
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