The cure for poor eLearning design - Exposure!
Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting banishing your instructional designers into the outlands until they finally produce materials you can be proud of, but rather that exposing them to eLearning produced by others can cure poor design.
Exposure to learning materials produced by others helps you to do three key things:
1- Avoid mistakes in your own work
2- Improve problem solving
3- Foster creativity
By experiencing someone else's work as a learner you will start to identify what works well and what doesn't in the design of the course. This is particularly valuable for people who are new to the industry. Many of us when we first start out will make the same mistakes, usually due to over zealous creativity, so why not study the work of people who have already found effective methods and mould your ideas to the template of their success. This is a short cut to successful instructional design that helps to eliminate that awkward phase of 'too much creativity, not enough experience'.
Improve Problem Solving
There are times when the content you need to design just does not lend itself well to interactive and engaging learning materials and you are all out of ideas. Why not take a sneak peak at what others did in the same situation? What did another instructional designer do when they were given a list of 20 unrelated bullet points to put on a slide, or a really in depth technical drawing that required three pages of explanation?
When you've picked up on the tips and tricks of best practise by experiencing eLearning as a learner you have more space and time for creativity. You will no longer need to worry about the smaller aspects of design because you will have a tried and tested template of what 'good' looks like. You can also be confident that your learners will have a positive experience and will find the key elements such as UI and navigation really clear and simple (because you've transplanted them from other successful courses). So what can you do with a confident learner and a solid foundation for your course - you can challenge them (and yourself), really stretch the learner through complex interactions that require in depth understanding and application of key principles.
So - 'how to find courses to expose yourself to' I hear you cry! This one's easy. There are a whole host of free or low cost courses available online that you can access, and there are a lot of learning professional communities where people often ask others to test or review their work. You could ask to review a colleague's work, or look at the case studies of eLearning award winners to see what it was that made their courses so successful. Whether the course you expose yourself to is good or poor there will be some learning you can take away from it - if it works, why did it work and can you use that to your advantage? if it was a poor experience - what made it poor and therefore what do you need to avoid?
And in the interest of sharing - here's a link to a section of one of our courses for you to explore.