Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Studying Minimalist Ideas To Minimize Course Design Muddle

Learn minimalist: How to avoid the clutter in online training

One trend we picked from Millennials is simplicity. Minimalism may not be what they were aiming for, but it is the end result. This generation operates with limited possessions and a clinical outlook on life. You live on the bare minimum and invest in experiences instead of tangible purchases. This way of thinking is expressed differently in online training. The result is concise, focused learning materials. The reduced material generates targeted online training content and can make learning easier. With less superfluous information, the learner in the company can concentrate on the essentials. How can you follow this minimalist learning principle right from the start?

6 tips to clean up your course design

1. Storyboard for your online training content

When putting together an online training course, it can be difficult to know how many details you will need. It’s tempting to cram every bit of knowledge into online training. This would make it tight and impractical. Instead of writing chapters and pages, create an eLearning storyboard. It goes screen by screen, with a single concept or idea per slide. This gives you a clearer picture because when you get to 200 screens you are rethinking the amounts of content. It’s also easier to declutter when your medium is visual. It doesn’t have to be detailed – start with broad strokes. eLearning storyboards also give you the opportunity to create a sense of cohesion. Instead of developing all of the online training content, you need to find that it is fragmented or has no central theme.

2. Examine recklessly

Once you have all of your planned online training content, start hacking. An experienced learning minimalist can see at a glance which slides can be left out. Getting the flow right can also be helpful. You can rearrange the screen order or move content from one chapter to another. If in doubt, take it out, but remember to keep discarded slides. You may need this content later, or you may want to summarize it for existing slides. Get an outside look to help – as a creator, you are likely biased. You might even consider inviting a select group of employees for a test session. You can provide their eLearning feedback on the overall picture of the online training course. Likewise, whether they have learned something from the online training experience or whether clutter stood in the way.

3. Use negative spaces

Think about your house on cleaning day. Or even on a normal day. When there are pillows on the floor and laundry on the chairs, the house looks filthy. These items could all be clean, but the clutter will compromise your hygiene. Your learning of minimalistic online training content is the same. If a lot of pictures and icons are squashed on the page, your online training content will look cluttered and unprofessional. Corporate learners don’t know what to focus on, and throwing their eyes all the way over the page affects their loyalty. Stick to a single visual per page with lots of white space. It creates mental “breathing spaces”. You should also avoid cluttered backgrounds that steal the spotlight. There’s no shame in choosing a plain backdrop and leaving visuals, text, and multimedia to star the show.

4. Overlay your layout

The difference between a physical book and an online document is animation. Paper books are static, but eLearning eBooks and digital content can get you jumping around. Online training content can be summarized in pop-ups, light boxes, drop-down menus or opt-in slide shows. Minimal wording should appear on the screen at any time. Additional text can be linked from attachments or called up with the mouse pointer. This can also make the pages themselves lighter so they can load faster. Pay attention to brevity and clarity.

5. Re-evaluate your learning objectives

The ultimate goal of a learning minimalist is online training that gives employees all the information they need in an easy-to-understand way. However, you need to evaluate why you created the online training in the first place and what you want to achieve. Take a closer look at the learning objectives and desired results and determine which images, text blocks and activities support them. Anything that does not meet the learning objectives should be left behind. For example, the photo on the intro page creates enough interest to grab the employees’ attention. But does it really summarize the subject or does it convey the right tone? Or does it just offer an aesthetic appeal instead of a small foretaste of what is to come? Everything in your eLearning course design must deserve its place by serving a purpose.

6. Curate regularly

As soon as the online training has started, it doesn’t stop there. Check it regularly, update the online training content, and clean up clutter. Use technological advances to improve your online training. Integrate heatmaps and analytics to guide your clearing and redesign efforts. Collect eLearning feedback from employees to identify areas for improvement and measure their knowledge retention. For example, LMS reports show that your online health and safety compliance training course has a high error rate. Or that employees are taking much longer to complete than expected. This can be a tell-tale sign that clutter is overwhelming your employees and causing cognitive overload.


Clutter in the house disturbs your peace of mind. In an online environment, messy layouts can distract corporate learners and hinder their learning process. This is why you should become a learning minimalist. Start your eLearning content development process with an eLearning storyboard, then carefully consider that each panel is relevant. Leave a lot of “white space” to facilitate content ingestion. Provide information in multiple layers so that little can be consumed at once. Keep the text on the screen to a minimum and check your online training content regularly by sorting and trimming it as needed. Make sure your online training course is clean, easy to navigate, and has intuitive reference tools.

Do you need to do some major housekeeping to improve knowledge retention and reduce clutter? Is your current tool up to the task? If not, it may be time to invest in new rapid authoring software that makes content maintenance and revision hassle-free.


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