Good MF’ing Online Learning


Warning: Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wife. This article uses the F-word


Every so often, I go visit this website for inspiration:

It starts with the text

This is a motherfucking website.
And it’s fucking perfect.
Seriously, what the fuck else do you want?

It goes on to remind us that websites do not need to have all the eye candy and interactivity that we’re accustomed to seeing on sites nowadays.

It’s meant to remind web designers that the main purpose of a website is to convey information, and simple HTML pages do that just as well as fancy web applications with lots of social media buttons, comment sections, thumbs up/thumbs down buttons, and other niceties.

It then talks specifically about all the technical features that designers thoughtlessly add to any website they make, increasing complexity, causing conflicts, slowing down performance, and diminishing the end user’s experience.

It’s good to remember that, at its most basic, learning on the web is as simple as being able to access learning content. See, you’re learning stuff right now!

Simplicity in EdTech

Most Instructional Designers do not consider themselves to be web designers – rather, they’re educators who build learning experiences on the web.

As such, most IDs prefer to use authoring packages and learning management systems – AKA crutches – over basic web tools to create content. As a result, eLearning content is frequently trapped in proprietary authoring formats, doesn’t work on mobile devices, and over-emphasizes visual beauty over accessibility. Online instructors flit from one free eye-candy web app to the next in search of a simple workflow where they can make attractive eye-candy assets to get students excited about learning. Just as often as not, this leads us to unnecessarily complexify our online materials.

Please let this motherfucking website serve as an inspiration to you that you don’t need a learning management system to build a site. You can write a simple page in markdown, throw it in your dropbox, share the URL, and connect with your people that way.

Alternately, you can export that markdown as HTML, paste it into a page in your LMS, and have a nice, clearly organized page. What more do you want?

Or… you can get a free blog, slap some free theme on it, and post your ideas online that way. People will think you’re fancy.

You don’t need to create a flash-based Captivate presentation so your students can flip through a PowerPoint presentation deck on the web. Why not make a HTML5-based presentation with markdown and post it??

Remember that this motherfucking website is the simplest way you can communicate with others on the web, and it’s pretty fucking great. It’s mobile-friendly, responsive, adaptive, broadband optimized, 508 compliant, accessible, and gluten free. Next time you’re designing a learning experience for the web, try building UP from this instead of DOWN from your cinematic fever dreams? You might surprise yourself how successful it can be.

[Feeling advanced? Check out this Better Motherfucking Website. It uses CSS!]

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Written by

Ted Curran is a Learning Experience Designer/Developer for Autodesk. He is committed to empowering educators and learners to create transformational change through effective pedagogy and technology integration. You can follow Ted on Mastodon, LinkedIn or learn more at my 'About" page. These thoughts are my own.

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