Putting Paper Back into Web-Based Training Design

Elearning| Instructional Design Tips
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Be creative. Now.

Just figure it out. Faster.

Have you ever heard this or felt this way? I have.

Working in an industry that is fueled by creativity can be daunting because we are constantly looking for what is new and fresh. Since our focus is often on web-based training, we spend a lot of time at a computer. So, when we need to be creative and design a course, a page, or a graphic, it may seem logical to stay sitting at the computer. However, it can be beneficial to step away from the computer screen to brainstorm and get creative with our training design.

I’m including some of the more recent brainstorming sessions that took place away from the computer.

For a large project we’re working on, we needed to create a series of video-based scenarios that could have 10 characters. We decided that it would be nice to have them all connected in some way, like the characters in the movie Love Actually.  In order to do that, we started by mapping the potential relationships:

As you can see, it was a little messy, but this helped in the creation of characters and if we could connect them all. Then, we refined our options and focused on creating the characters themselves. We named the characters and even found pictures of local talent who could play the parts. We wanted to truly create a group of characters, and this next image shows our first attempt at organizing everything.


This step was very helpful when we sat down to write the scripts because it helped keep the whole vision in focus.

For a different training design project, I used sticky notes to depict separate pages a course would have. It was very helpful to move things around until we got it right.


In other instances, all it takes is a piece of paper. As you can see in the next image, I was able to capture many different options. You probably can’t figure out what any of this means, but it actually helped our project. You don’t even need to be a good artist. Just pick up a pen and try to create a general concept. This is often very helpful when communicating with our artists as well.


Being creative can mean so many things, and I’m sure that most of you have your own way of getting your creative juices flowing. If you haven’t tried some visual (non-computer) brainstorming lately, try it again. It may take you back to your junior high art class days, or it may just take you to a new, creative place.

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  1. Great post, It is interesting to follow the creative process there. I often find myself producing much better layouts and designs when I take 5-10 minutes and sketch out an idea vs. sitting at photoshop and messing around for an hour. It is so much more effective to step away from the computer and think about the outcome I am seeking to create.
    I often tell others I am working with to sketch out their ideas of what they want me to create for them, it really saves a lot of time and we end up communicating more effectively as well.



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