One of our four pillars of engaging e-learning is programming. Programming is the unsung hero of the four pillars*. Programmers work tirelessly to bring the vision that instructional designers have for the course to fruition.
When one of our programmers would show off our work to her parents, they always commented on how great the courses looked. “It does look great! But I had nothing to do with that part,” she’d say.
"It’s so well written!" they'd say. “It is! But I had nothing to do with that either,” she’d respond.
"I learned so much?" they tried. “Great! But that wasn’t me either.”
You get the idea. Essentially, our programmer’s parents commented on everything but the functionality of the course. But this is a compliment in and of itself. It may not seem exciting, but when a course functions seamlessly, that is great programming!
That’s what we’re trying to do in our custom e-learning courses. We want the programming to be great, so it isn’t a frustration point for the learner. The frustration points for the learner should be in the instructional design. The learner should be deciding between two answers and finding out why the one they picked was wrong. Learners should not be deciding how to make their selection. That should be intuitive.
We want learners, like our programmer’s parents, to be fully engaged with the design and the content. We want our learners to be learning, not struggling to navigate the course.
SIMPLE FUNCTIONALITY ≠ SIMPLE PROGRAMMING
Just because a course’s functionality is seamless, though, does not mean that it is simple. We want to create an immersive and engaging experience for the learner. We just don’t want them to have to slog through extra buttons, extraneous navigation, and overlays upon overlays to get that experience. This simplicity takes thoughtful planning.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
That is where communication with instructional designers is key. IDs must communicate the goals of the course early on to ensure that the programmers are able to include the essential elements and strip away unnecessary distractions.
Next time you find yourself fully engaged in the content, instruction, and design of a course, just know that the reason that you can be fully immersed is because the programming is seamless, intuitive, and elegant.
These days, our programmer’s mother makes sure to say, “It functions so well!”
*According to programmers.