The importance of aesthetics in E-Learning design is often ignored. For some unknown reasons, the creative artistry that more often distinguishes the great learning experience lies unexplored. And yet, every program or production that we remember is most often the one that appealed to our senses — that, in turn, stimulated our mind to learn, absorb and retain.

While we all know the importance of the SME, the computer programmer, and the instructional designer — far too often, we select those individuals solely for their skill set, ignoring the importance of their “artist’s eye.” And yet, it is often the aesthetic distinguishers that lift our programs into the higher planes of learning.

We all have the deepest respect for the advances that have been made in Science and Technology. But, we must be careful. The primal importance of Art must never be lost. Whether that Art is in Music, Writing, Painting, Architecture or Design, it has an equally important place in almost everything. Those of us in Education and Training forget that from time to time — and, the result is “lost opportunity.” E-Learning needs to combine Art and Technology in order to reap the great results in learning that are so desired by all of us who strive to expand the worlds-of-opportunity that our society requires.

My good friend, John Rosenthal https://www.johnrosenthal.com , writer, one of America’s premier art photographers and a long-time contributor to NPR’s “All Things Considered,” has written about the necessity for this combination — in every aspect of life:

“No matter how brilliantly Science has understood the mechanics of the material world, it is a remarkably ineffective tool for deciphering the mysteries of human misery. Even with thousands of “experts” telling us what’s wrong, and measuring it, self-knowledge is on the decline. In America, the most technologically advanced country on earth, one has to be oblivious not to hear a din of sorrow and private disappointment just below the gabble of our TV’s and the hum of our personal computers. Where is the expertise that can explain us to ourselves? The scientific method is inadequate for such revelations. No matter how many developmental models we formulate to explain why and when we do things, no matter how extensive the revealed neurochemical connections, psycho-biology must always collaborate with human freedom – the curse of dealing with a creature for whom visual symbols, art and language, are a defining characteristic. Such a collaboration entails nothing less than a deeper respect for the singularity of our lives, a recognition of those immensely specific contingencies that belong only to our own individual experience. In other words, the business of art – the inner gaze, and those strategies for sharpening its clarity. Who else but the artist, insisting upon the primacy of individual experience, can reclaim the private territory ceded to experts – to those well-meaning and well-socialized professionals who created the idea of normal people just when the corporations needed a work force?”

If you need examples, just take a look at the iPhone or the iPad. Sure, the technology is breathtaking. But, so is the artistic design and the aesthetics surrounding the users’ experience. We recognize the importance of line, mass, form, and color when we use those products.

And, so it should be with the E-Learning programs you produce or purchase. Information, by itself, is never enough. It’s the aesthetics that will make your choices memorable; enhance learning most completely; and, increase the length of the retention.

We work hard to engineer many products and the result can often become “a well-baked cake.” But, the cake will taste much better after you apply the icing. And, that is where the aesthetic choices you make will turn your courseware “cake” into either something special or something bland. Both useful, perhaps, but one will be to savor.

More on Thursday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning
www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
e-Mail: bwalton@itclearning.com