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  • Haley Jolstead

Most Common Courseware Mistakes

You're sitting at your desk, eyes glazing over, as the presenter's robotic tone lulls you to sleep. A moment passes and you snap to attention. You realize you've been listening to this video lecture drone on for almost an hour now, but you're unsure if you could even recall a single piece of information you should have absorbed in that time.

In the post Covid world, most of us can relate to trying to finish an e-Learning course to gain an essential skill, but something about the presentation style or structure just feels like an insurmountable barrier to our engagement. This is the last situation you want to put your learner in. Chances are high that they may abandon your course altogether, and even if they don't, they certainly won't be seeking out future courses.

In this article, we're going to go over the most common mistakes courseware developers make and how you can avoid them.


1. Information Overload

When you are designing courseware, especially on a technical subject, it can be very easy to overload a lecture with too much information. If you are creating a video lecture based on a presentation slide deck, this often occurs by trying to pack too much information on each slide.

2. Unprofessional Animations

There are over 90 animations available in PowerPoint, but there are several that should not be considered for use in a professional presentation. Some, like Boomerang entrance, are difficult to make work well in most situations. It often can make a presentation look juvenile.

Some animations that work well include Fade, Wipe, and Dissolve. All of these are subtle enough to look professional but add movement and emphasis to keep the audience engaged.

Animations are powerful when used on bulleted lists and smart art, and other graphics. This prevents the learner from ignoring what is being said so they can read ahead and keeps the learner’s focus on the point that is being discussed.

3. Colors and Graphics

The opposite of Death by PowerPoint is a presentation that uses too many conflicting colors and graphics that don’t flow and work cohesively with the subject matter. A slide deck should not look like a digital kindergarten craft.

Keep the color scheme simple, with two or three bright colors that work well together, and a few subtle colors to compliment. Microsoft PowerPoint has many color schemes built into their programs to help with this.

Graphics should be simple in design and contribute to the message on the slide. Squares, circles and simple icons are powerful tools. Use similar graphics throughout the presentation.

4. Ransom Note

Have you ever seen a ransom note on television? Each letter or word is cut out of a separate publication and glued together to form one message. Often when a whole team of people work on a single project, it can have the same effect. Each member of the team has their own unique color, graphic, and writing style. When all the slides are combined, it can have the same effect as a ransom note, looking incohesive and thrown together.

Not only should a presentation be checked for grammar and spelling errors, but one team member should correct errors in color, graphics, and general flow. This is often called the “one voice” editor.

One way to help the one voice editor is to establish a style guide for the project. This includes approved colors, shapes, fonts, font sizes, and animations. When the team is given more direction at the beginning, the one voice editor will have a much easier time when the deadline is near.

We can help!

Creating engaging courseware, either for your office or for a client, can be a daunting task. We have trained courseware developers and designers who know all the downfalls to watch for. Whether you need a course written from scratch or just could use some help polishing your presentation, The Courseware Group is here to help. We look forward to hearing from you!


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