If you’re anything like me, digital devices are simply a tool I use to perform my work, communicate with colleagues, friends and family, and generally entertain myself with. I’m not interested in scripts, codes or system updates. As long as they work when I want them to work, do what I want them to do, and hopefully don’t lose any of my data in the meantime, I’m happy. In a perfect world, digital devices would be a means to an end, end of story, and I’d live happily ever after.
However, despite all the engaging and time-saving things that technology enables us to do, I’m often left frustrated by the annoying lack of logic inherent in certain programs, websites and online transactions. Often they look quite good but they just don’t work in a seamless, integrated or intuitive fashion (yes, one particular international airline, that’s includes your infuriating online check-in process). Or maybe they look and function okay, but they’re just not interesting or useful. Or maybe they are interesting and useful, but they’re just not pleasant to use.
And if this applies to the wider digital world, it certainly applies to a vast body of adult digital learning in particular, which is why we’re putting together a series of articles on user experience (UX) in what we’re calling our guide to ergonomic learning.
Broadly speaking, ergonomics is defined as the human characteristics that should be taken into consideration when designing objects or systems that people interact with. Sometimes called ‘human engineering’ or ‘human factors engineering’, ergonomics is about how we use everyday things and ensuring that those interactions are as safe, efficient and, preferably, enjoyable as possible.
As a design principle, ergonomics is not dissimilar to UX, indeed UX is critical to ergonomics, just as a user interface (UI) is critical to UX. Both ergonomics and UX help to define what a person’s behaviours, attitudes and emotions about using a certain product, object or system are going to be. Likewise ergonomic learning is about ensuring that a learning need is met as simply, elegantly and intuitively as possible. And, while not all learning is necessarily going to be ‘fun’ (unfortunately), it should at least be painless and possibly even pleasant.
In this series of articles, we’ll cover a range of practically-oriented best practice visual, technological and instructional design principles that will help ensure that your next e-learning course is remembered for all the right reasons.
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