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A More Nuanced Discussion of Templates

In: Designelearning

A little earlier this month, I was catching up on the Rad Presenters podcast. The show guests were Echo and Julie, two women who have built a successful business around designing presentations. The discussion this episode was definitely an interesting one and brought up some excellent points about using templates the right way. Templates gone wrong can definitely encourage people to eschew design. In learning design, a  professor or SME might be tempted to download a cute template, drop on their content, and call it instructional design or an online course. You and I know that there is so much more to it than that, but the democratization of design makes bad design possible as well as good design.

Still, the many instances of this unfortunate example don’t mean that we should call all templates evil. In the show, Echo and Julie brought up several arguments on how templates used in the right way can save time. The point that most stood out to me was that, even as we design an experience around a particular curriculum, using template-like feature can be a boon. Setting up a color palette and font choices, designing reusable UI elements and layouts can help us ship more quickly at both the individual course and suite of courses levels. Many elearning folks, like Connie Malamed, talk about this in terms of workflow, exploring how to set up these reusable features in your authoring tools. I don’t mind discussing it in terms of templates, because this is exactly the sort of thing templates are meant to do. Have a listen to the podcast and let me know what you think about using templates.