Where Do You Get Your Inspiration for E-Learning?

Last month at the Learning Solutions conference, I hosted a Morning Buzz discussion on getting inspiration for e-learning courses.  Here are some of the ideas we shared.

What do we need inspiration for?

In what areas do we sometimes struggle?

  • Openings and closings
  • Presenting the same old content in new and different ways
  • Dealing with dry content, such as regulatory requirements
  • Getting creative quickly
  • Keeping courses interactive

Where do you find inspiration?

  • The world
    Pay attention to the world around you—inspiration can come from a billboard, an app, or a self-serve kiosk.
  • Pinterest
    Search for e-learning, infographics, user interface design, etc.
  • Dissecting other courses
    Check out the DemoFest Archive from the E-Learning Guild, E-Learning Heroes E-Learning Examples/Weekly Challenges, and Allen Interactions’ portfolio; do a Google search for “e-learning award winners;” and check with industry associations or vendor partners.
  • Templates
    Take a look at E-Learning Brothers or Raptivity.
  • YouTube
    Do a search for “e-learning ideas.”
  • Journaling
    Sit down with pen and paper and just start writing—even if all you are writing is: “I don’t know what to write.” Don’t stop until the page is full.
  • Location
    Go sit on a couch, work in the cafeteria, or sit outside.
  • Other people
    Run your ideas/challenges by other people, including those not involved in the project or even in the industry.
  • Music
    Play a song in your office that relates to your content, and see if it generates any ideas.
  • Images
    Look for different images that relate to your content, and see if they generate any ideas.
  • Action Mapping
    Check out Cathy Moore’s fabulously simple technique for mapping out a course that’s guaranteed to be relevant and interactive.
  • Books
    Take a look at The Artist’s Way at Work or anything by Nancy Duarte or Michael Allen.

When using these techniques, be sure to walk the line between “borrowing inspiration” and violating copyright. Concepts can’t be copyrighted, but actual designs can.  For example, I was recently working on the visual design of a course and found inspiration from an iStock image.  Even though I modified it some with the colors and icons of my course, I still purchased the rights to the image.  To me, I was past the point of considering it inspiration for my own unique design.

What would you add to these lists?  Where do you need inspiration? Where do you get inspiration?

Diane Elkins
Diane Elkins leads Artisan E-Learning, a custom eLearning development company specializing in the use of rapid- development tools. Diane has been in the eLearning industry since 2001, speaks regularly at national conferences about eLearning, and is co-author of the popular E-Learning Uncovered book series.

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