This post was originally published on lessonly.com.
If you had to describe the user interface of a traditional classroom, it couldn’t be any further than what you will find from the user interface of an online course. A traditional classroom learning environment is made to be rather loose, allowing for teachers to present in a myriad of ways and encouraging learners to ask questions face-to-face so they can understand the subject matter. The same can’t always be said about cloud-based learning platforms, which is why there is a huge push recently to improve the user interfaces of learning management system software across the board.
Good user interface is built on these principles
Let’s start off with the definition of user interface, which focuses on the elements of online learning to make sure that we anticipate what users of learning content might do so the “interface has elements that are easy to access, understand, and use to facilitate those actions.” It’s a pretty broad definition. “User interface” includes everything from the process learners have to go through to register for their learning courses to the design of the buttons that move learners to the next slide of their course content. Improving as many pieces of your digital learning user interface as possible is key to making sure that learners flourish.
A good user interface is comprised of many pieces, but there are three principles to keep in mind when looking to build or invest in an enterprise LMS:
- “Making things easier for your users means not forcing them to learn new representations or toolsets for each task.” The Interaction Design Foundation writes that good user interface should help digital learning teammates by keeping interactions consistent. Learners should be able to understand, over time, how the learning platform will interact when they use it so they can focus on digesting the content.
- “Don’t add things to be clever, or feed an ego,” is how you can sum up the second principle of good user interface. Web-based learning can be difficult enough, so the last thing students should have to worry about is cumbersome authoring tools and course content overloaded with social sharing options. With learning content, less user interface is more.
- “The UI shouldn’t mislead users and must provide them with meaningful feedback — you must induce them to the right mental model.” Learning at its core is about being lead through subject matter, and an online course is no different. A good user interface in a learning platform is standing in for the ways in which a teacher would help his or her classroom with a particularly tough subject. Showing users where to go to access the course content, ask questions, and access their grades are all examples of ways a good web-based tool can assist users.
Learning management systems rely heavily on user interface
The difference between a traditional classroom and the online setting of a cloud-based learning management system is what makes user interface so important. The advantage of allowing learners to have their own schedule can be a downfall without a good user interface. An administrator or subject matter expert can’t always be on-call in a blended learning environment, so the learning content needs to teach users how to learn by themselves. This is so incredibly important for online learning, but until recently hasn’t been a huge focus. Luckily we’ve moved on from the early days of open-source online learning toward enterprise learning management systems built for learners. Organizations understand that if they want their employees to do better work, they need to teach them how, and the user interface of their learning courses should reflect that.
When looking through the LMS market for a suitable web-based learning platform, keep an eye out for features including the ability to retake online courses, a clearly laid-out gradebook, and easy-to-understand authoring tools. These are just a few examples of ways that user interface makes a good product, but a good question to start with when deciding is “When a learner lands on this page, will they know how to access the content that they need?” Thinking in that way puts the learner first, and can guide you to a learning platform which has everyone’s best interest in mind.
Lessonly by Seismic’s user interface is made for learners
When looking through the LMS market for the learning platform that is right for your users, pay special attention to the user interface next time. Check to make sure the online courses are clear, consistent, and helpful to learners, because it makes a real difference. Thousands of companies trust Lessonly for their online learning. See for yourself with a demo of Lessonly today.