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Getting started with VR design for your online courses

Great e-learning is partly about relevant and engaging content, partly about presentation. In the age of all things digital, content creators must keep up with the latest developments and user expectations. These have lately been pointing towards immersive technology, which makes learning more fulfilling.

Though getting started with VR design for your online courses may seem daunting at first, you’ll be pleased to find out that you don’t have to be a graphic design wizard to figure it out. The technology is intuitive and user-friendly. Here are a few tips on beginning your VR creative journey.

The best way to learn about VR is by using it

As linguistic specialists always say, if you want to learn a new language, go to a new country. That advice to immerse yourself in a novel experience works very well where VR is concerned.

Because this technology is all about participation, it’s easy to get acquainted with it firsthand. There are several options for doing so, some more affordable, like Google Cardboard and some a little pricier, such as Vive. You can run the numbers and see if it's a good long-term investment. Since you will probably be designing and selling VR courses for a while, you can also charge a higher price.

Use wireframes in the creation stage

Wireframes are visual guides that are used to represent the basic framework of a website. They help you decide what goes where and how the finished product will look like.

It’s also important to know your user persona, how familiar they are with VR, and what they would need in terms of guidance through the course. You can’t expect people to know right off the bat how to navigate a VR course, so make sure you plan for familiarization and include several visual clues to help them get started. Think user onboarding experiences!

Think outside the rectangle

Because most VR viewing devices have a rectangle shape, you might be inclined to design your modules to fit this pattern as well. However, VR offers a 360-degree space that does not have the same limitations.

Depending on the subject you are teaching, your user persona, the modules' length, and what you are comfortable with as an instructor, you can make the space into whatever you want.

It’s essential to keep it relevant and not overwhelm learners. If learners are more concerned with the VR space instead of the content, it will be an issue.

Don’t get too creative with the UI interface

VR is new, exciting, and has countless opportunities. This is all very good, but when it comes to accessibility and navigation, there’s a lot to be said for familiarity. Never-before-seen interactions may be exciting, but they also have a steep learning curve. It may take some of energy and brainpower away from the subject you are teaching.

Just as for 2D interfaces, instructional designers working with VR should use size, contrast, and color to create content. When it comes to VR, size is based on the distance between the user and a piece of content, so it’s important to consider item scales and viewing distances.

Make everything seem familiar

While VR is a new, state-of-the-art technology, even the most tech-savvy individuals may hesitate. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but VR should enhance the learning experience, not take something away from it.

Looking at the natural interactions with touchscreens these days and relying on those patterns to convey a similar navigation experience is a perfect place to start. As VR design evolves, new items will be added to the typical user experience. For now, it’s safer to go with what’s already familiar.

Closing thoughts

The key to growing an e-learning business is to play to your strengths while also looking for more opportunities. Even if you feel comfortable designing your e-learning courses in more traditional ways, it can’t hurt to peek at what VR can do to enhance the learning experience, and play around with technology to see how it may work for you.

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