Many a times as an instructional designer I only have background information about my learner; I don’t know who they are or what their interest are. This makes my job a bit difficult because I need to make sure that my learner is motivated enough to complete my course. But how do I do this?
There are plenty of books written with instructional strategies on how to engage and motivate your learner. These books are mainly theoretical and do help when you’re in need; however, I have realized that there is no better way to learn other than from your own practical experience.
Let me take you through 5 simple ways of designing eLearning courses, which have helped my learners have an amazing learning experience.
1. Build a structure:
What happens when you construct a building without its pillars? It’s bound to fall, right? In the same way never start your course without creating a proper structure. You want a course that makes a lasting impression in your learners’ mind and to do that, the first thing you need to do is to analyze. Now analyzing just doesn’t mean reading through your content; when you analyze you need to think about the accuracy and appropriateness of your course – whether or not it make sense to you. And if it doesn’t make sense to you, rest assured it isn’t going to make much sense to your learners as well!
It is important to create a strategy that covers the A to Z of your requirements and resources, so that when you begin you exactly know where you will end.
2. Less content more learning:
Too much of anything isn’t always good. The same applies to eLearning, never bombard you learner with too much information. You may think you’re doing a great job by giving your learner the tiniest of detail he or she needs to now, but you end up losing your learners’ attention. Very often, your content dictates the way of your course and a content-heavy eLearning course is like a boat that has a hole in it, eventually waiting to drown.
One of the ways to avoid such a disaster is to present concise and accurate information. Use information that adds value to your content. Minimal text onscreen and language that is simple and conversation will make your course lively and learner friendly. Too much content can distract your learners and as an instructional designer you have to find the right balance between too much content and too less content and once you get the hang of it, your course will seamlessly flow from topic to topic.
3. Tell a story:
As children we all grew up listening to fairytales and bed time stories. Using storytelling as an instructional strategy is not only a great tool to impart knowledge, but it also appeals to the child in you. No matter what the context is, simple or complicated, when you spin a story around learning you are bound to make the hardest subject easy and fun to understand. Storytelling conveys learning through emotions, for instance, you can use characters, create a scenario around them and then use that scenario to explain a procedure. Check out How an Instructional Designer Can Evoke Emotions in eLearning? for more information.
4. Visual treat:
No matter how interesting your subject is and how well you tell a story, it means nothing if you don’t visually entice your learner. Learners tend to concentrate more on images rather than plain text.
Visuals are generally used in following ways:
- Images: You will find images in every eLearning course out there, but don’t think that just by adding an image your content gets interesting. The key to using images is that it should not only support but enhance the value of your content. For example, using a doctor’s images just because your content talks about cancer isn’t enough. In such a situation, an image of that particular cancer cell will make more sense to you and your learner.
- Videos: Videos are a step ahead than images. Moving images always attract your learner’s attention. Videos are an asset to eLearning. Videos are best used as welcome messages, employee or customer testimonials and are the easiest form of instruction when you have to explain a complicated process. However, there is a lot more to know about the technicality of videos while embedding them in your course. Check out Using Videos in eLearning – Factors to Consider for more information.
Any eLearning course becomes the best when your learner is allowed to do something; even a small click of the mouse can make a huge difference. Another way to keep your learner hooked is by making them do something! For such a situation, you have simulations where your learners see a process and then repeat it. For instance, you want show your learner how to register his/her name on a popular website; here you take your learner through the webpage and detail out the steps. Once your learner has watched it then the next step is to make him/her try out the same exact procedure; this not only keeps your leaner engaged but reinforces the process of learning.
With these 5 strategies in my kitty I was able to make quite a few interesting eLearning courses that made my learners wanting for more. If you know strategies that can help your learners even more then please do share.