When Informal Communication Succeeds: A Tale from the Trenches
An interaction catalog: one way to efficiently build great elearning
How do you design successful elearning while operating within constraints like budget, time, and resources?
As recently discussed on our Learning Dispatch blog, one way is to have a formal template interaction catalog, and consciously ensure that designers and developers operate only within those limits (it can be more creative than it sounds!).
But what if you don’t have an interaction catalog?
On a recent project, we were in that situation—we had limited time and budget and wanted to create effective elearning, but didn’t have a formal catalog.
Instead, we made sure both the instructional designer and elearning developer were aware of the constraints and the overall goal (at Microassist we have a split shop—our instructional designers take projects from inception to the storyboard, and elearning programmers take the project from the storyboard to the completed elearning course).
Recently, the project’s instructional designer and the programmer had a pulse check (a quick check-in, feedback, and alignment meeting). It turns out that the instructional designer had decided to use a short, limited list of interactions as the basis for the design (for learning geeks: mainly presentation, multiple choice questions, and variations on click and reveals). The programmer, having noted this, was able to reuse several screens to quickly program the course. And the result was pretty engaging and interactive.
They didn’t really talk about a formal list of interactions to use. But since they were aligned on an organizational level with the need to limit themselves and operate within boundaries, their informal approach moved the project forward effectively and efficiently.
So, does your elearning team always need an interaction catalog?
Maybe not—this particular project was rather small, the course was short, and the number of people involved was limited. If it were a bigger project, were a longer course, used more people, then more overhead and formality might be needed.
But it worked for this one. And it might work for you, too.
I don’t want to underestimate the positive impact that formal and documented structure can have in creating effective training within constraints (after all, I wrote a blog post arguing in favor of it). At the same time, organizations often need to scale infrastructure to meet project demands.
And sometimes, informal is good enough.