Ambience might not be the first thing an instructional designer or developer thinks of when designing the course, but it deserves to be in the conversation. When designing courses it’s very easy to get lost in the weeds of the content and lose sight of the learner’s perspective. The hard truth is that the learner probably doesn’t care as much about the content as we do. At least not at first.
One of our major responsibilities is to connect learners to content, and I would argue that the way in which we present that content carries just as much weight as the value of the information we present. We should be hyper-focused on creating a positive learning experience for learners, and avoid at all costs the creation of a content “dump”.
This idea of experience is really important. To put it another way, a brownie sundae isn’t any different eaten off the floor than it is off of a clean dish on a set table. Both of my sons can attest to that. But the brownie sundae experience for most people over the age of 5 is vastly superior seated at the table than it is laying on the floor. Presentation matters.
This brings me to this week’s e-learning challenge (#117) from E-Learning Heroes. The challenge was to demonstrate how one could use this visual design tip in an e-learning course. It’s an effective visual device that immediately had me thinking about presentation. I think one of the strongest cases for using it in an e-learning course is to add context and ambience without distracting the learner.
For this mock-up I repurposed a graphic from an older course to form the backdrop for the title page. I strayed a bit from the formula that Dave explained in the challenge description. It’s probably not immediately clear that the mountain image on the start button and the background image are the same, but the message is still there; the focus of this training is related to Mount Hood (Oregon), and the context exists within the greater Mount Hood National Forest.
In terms of ambience–what do you “feel” when you look at the image? My intent was to recreate the feeling of looking out of a window toward the mountain on a foggy, rainy Oregon morning; essentially “transporting” the learner to the stage they’ll be on when guiding tourists. Did I meet that goal? Does this set the right mood for a positive learning experience? Please add to the discussion in the comments below, and happy building!