Tag Archives: visual design

Slides that Rock!

SlideShare: where we can learn from others

Concert crowdI’ve just read an interesting article from a SlideShare subscription alert. It was interesting on a number of levels. The article ‘Slides that Rock’ describes 5 ways SlideShare has helped them ‘rock’:

1. providing a platform where they can learn
2. building a better network
3. enabling a global presence
4. providing a marketing platform
5. adding credibility

I loved viewing their accompanying SlideShare presentation too which has some excellent learning points many of us can take away. It does have a SlideShare promotional feel to it and is considering SlideShare more from a marketing tool point of view but, nontheless, all their points are valid and I started to relate it back to eLearning (as is my tendency) and learning in general.

Presentations are a very passive way of sending a message but can play an important part in workplace learning or as part of a formal blended/eLearning solution. Reading copious amounts of text can have a detrimental effect on our levels of engagement and often visuals play a vital role in our comprehension of the material as well as motivating us to ‘stick with it’. “A picture paints a thousand words” as the saying goes is useful to bear in mind. We can learn to change that by taking ideas from these types of presentations such as ‘Slides that rock’.

Of course, we don’t have to stop at changing how our presentations look. We can apply the same principles to our eLearning tutorial slides too not to mention our classroom slides. And just think of the difference you can make to your conference presentations!

When people on my eLearning design workshops fear they haven’t the creative skills to produce dynamic and appealing slides I point them to two of the names mentioned in this article, Nancy Duarte (her Slideology book) and Garr Reynolds (particularly his Presentation Zen Design book).

Two further publication I always recommend are (i) ‘The non-designer’s design book‘ by Robin Williams (covers in layman’s terms the basic principles of graphic design – contrast, repitition, alignment and proximity) and (ii) ‘Visual Language for Designers‘ by Connie Malamed. I’m looking forward to checking out the work of David Crandall and Jesse Desjarnins to whom the article refers.

We could also do well to remember as learning designers though is that we too are marketeers. When we produce a piece of learning, whether it’s designed to be a formal course or ad-hoc, just in time chunks to help with workplace learning, we are producing a product to ‘sell’. The visual design ideas we see here could also be transferred to our marketing material such as posters and leaflets.

On a final note…. the main points that stuck with me from this article however were that SlideShare gave them a platform from where they could learn and it allowed them to build a better network.

We learn from sharing and collaborating with others. We just sometimes need a little help in knowing where to look which is where the role of trainers becoming curators and consultants comes in.

A picture paints a thousand words

Creating engaging eLearning

Every now and then I drop in a post about creating engaging eLearning. One of my passions is to help improve eLearning’s reputation by encouraging people to create better quality material. Here is another as part of the series.

Increasingly those of us who are involved in putting together any sort of visual material whether it’s slides for live sessions, eLearning screens, Slideshares, classroom presentations are finding it necessary to have a reasonable knowledge the basics of graphic design and marketing. Graphic design because we need to make an impact with visuals appropriately but marketing because we are actually ‘selling’ our content through visuals.

One simple rule but a very effective one that will help anyone starting out on their journey to engage with visuals is the ‘rule of thirds’. As a little task to my readers out there, just do a little Googling on the subject and you’ll be amazed what you find and perhaps it might explanation why we’re drawn to some photos and not others. Those photographers out there may already be aware of it or perhaps you have a natural eye and didn’t even know the principle your were automatically applying to your compositions. I often recommend those on my courses to take a closer and more analytic look at those adverts as they take the morning bus ride. Note the composition. How have the people in the pictures been placed? How much text is displayed and what influence does the font style (typography) have on the message being conveyed? How much ‘white space’ is there and how does it help the message? We can learn a lot from advertisers and photographers.

We can also be creative in how we combine text and images. Have a little think for a moment….. as we go through our daily lives, on what objects do we see text written? Where are they positioned and how is colour being used to ‘gel’ the composition?

In an office environment there are notepads, folders, computer screens, laptops, diaries, labels, post-it notes.
In a kitchen there are cans, menus, order pads, jam-jars, packets of food.
In a hospital there are prescription pads, medicine bottles, medical record sheets, signage, x-ray panels.

No matter what our topic is for either presentations, live online sessions or eLearning screens, we have a plethora of objects to choose from. Taking a piece of eLearning for example, if our topic was about chairing meetings the agenda for the session could very appropriately be displayed on an image of an official agenda sheet. We could, perhaps, type a question in a handwriting font on a spiral notebook or even use a post-it note to display each possible option in answer to a question. Next time you look at the news on TV, pay more attention to the graphics they use when presenting any statistical information and pinch any ideas you can.

Ditch those PowerPoint templates and our only limitation is our imagination.

For previous posts in this series see:

Can eLearning designers learn from retail designers
Putting the learning back in e-learning
Creating engaging eLearning – as easy as CSI
What hope is there for eLearning?