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7 Tips To Gain Your Learner’s Attention

Written By Bushra Zaineb

7 Tips To Gain Your Learner's Attention

How often do you think while developing an eLearning course whether it’s going to gain your learner’s attention or not? Is it important to gain your learner’s attention? Because if you haven’t captured your learner’s attention, he or she will not be ready to receive what you have to offer in the course and the learning opportunity is lost. Let me share some tips on gaining your learner’s attention.

7 Tips To Gain Your Learner's Attention

Tip 1: Add an attention-gaining device

Include an attention-gaining device at the very beginning of the course which will gain your learner’s attention. For example: WIIFM (What’s in it for me), icebreaker activities, course objectives, a short video clip, reflective questions, stories, case studies, etc.

Tip 2: Include the motivation factor

Motivation plays an important role in the learning process. It should be used at the beginning, during and end of the learning process because it sustains the learner’s attention. Use Tip 1 for motivating the learner at the beginning of the course. To keep the learner’s motivation high during the course, involve him or her through participation activities. To hold his motivation till the end, provide him or her with frequent feedback and talk about his or her progress.

Tip 3: Include everything in the learner’s context

There should be a connection between learning and workplace performance. Do a careful learner analysis to determine the learner’s performance requirement. Everything included in the course, right from instruction, graphics, activities, references etc. should be relevant to the learner. Context-driven courses not only motivate but encourage the learner to pay attention as his or her needs are met.

Tip 4: Have a proper content structure

Content structure also has a huge impact on gaining learners’ attention. If relevant content needs to be processed, relevant related information must also be available. Give a logical flow to your content because disorganized content moves the learner’s attention away in no time. Usually, content and activities are broken down in to modules, because on completion of these short modules, the learner gets a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.

Tip 5: Use interesting graphics

How many times have we heard that “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Yes, it’s certainly true of gaining the learner’s attention too. A single graphic can convey a complex idea besides grabbing the learner’s attention. But not just including a graphic would do that; you need to ensure that the visuals included in your course improve learning.

Tip 6: Make them do something

The importance of having the learner’s participation cannot be overstressed. The more the learner interacts with the course content rather than just clicking to navigate to next screens, the higher is his or her attention level. The learner’s participation can be done through exercises, interactivities and providing learner control in making certain choices while learning in the courses.

Tip 7: Include little humor

Humor is an effective tool for learner involvement because human brains don’t pay attention to boring things. It not only grabs their attention but rather aids in remembering what he or she has learned. But it is a tricky area, especially when we have multi-cultural learners. In my view we can include a little bit of humor if the learner base is homogenous. We can use cartoons, cartoonish figures or funny names for technical vocabulary that needs to be remembered.

Which element do you include in your eLearning to gain the learner’s attention? Do share your thoughts.

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  • Thom Gillespie

    The thing a teacher in a classroom always says: are you paying attention?

    The question is how you maintain attention given the range of differences in learners at all levels. I think one of the better books on teaching written recently is Tina Fey’s Bossypants. It is obviously about comedy but comics are absolute masters at ‘maintaining attention.’ If I was going to add in a visual component I’d look at the work of Banksy or Swoon graffiti artists. Understand McKee and his book ‘Story’ and you have all the tools you need. Now the doing is another thing. 8-)

    http://www.amazon.com/Story-Substance-Structure-Principles-Screenwriting/dp/0060391685

    http://www.amazon.com/Bossypants-Tina-Fey/dp/0316056871/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1313592622&sr=1-1

    http://www.amazon.com/Truth-Comedy-Improvisation-Charna-Halpern/dp/1566080037/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1313592642&sr=1-1

  • One big difference between teacher-led instruction and e-learning is personalization. All of the tips mentioned in the article are more appropriate to classroom teaching where teaching/learning can be customized to cater for each and every individual learner’s needs. In the case of e-learning, a one-size-fits-all approach is in practice and a common denominator. On the other hand, applying these recommendations in e-learning is more challenging and expensive.
    Current E-learning technology falls short in providing real adaptive learning where content is designed to account for individual learning needs and differences.
    If the current e-learning technology could afford personalization, this would help greatly in raising learners’ attention.

  • SS

    Yes! The e-learner’s attention is just a “click” away. Bushra, great tips. Thank you!

    While respecting Fadel’s comments, I’m wondering, “Does e-Learning improve “one’s” learning? Or does classroom teaching improve “one’s” learning?” Well, I think the answer depends on who the learner is (such as, expert, novice, independent, group learner). Also, the answer depends on the expected learning outcome. Alternatively, the answer depends on the instructional method employed for “a” type of learning outcome and for “a” learner profile.

    Strangely, I discover that the instructional mode (e-Learning or personalized)is not in the big picture. However, I agree that the current e-Learning technology needs to upgrade itself (I’m sure with web 2.0 and web 3.0, it will) to be more personalized. But, that isn’t all there to it.

    Regardless of the instructional mode, it should be noted that “no two individuals will end up with exactly the same representation in memory from the same lesson … differences in schemas result in differences regarding the ways that instructional methods affect cognitive processing.” (Building Expertise, by Ruth Clarke).

    As such, the focus should be on deploying the instructional method(s) that is suitable for a given learner profile (i.e., a profile obtained after giving consideration to the tolerable variations in the needs and capabilities) and for a set of learning outcomes. In this context of executing the instructional method, the topic of “gaining the learner’s attention” plays a pivotal role.

  • Vaughan Waller

    Roger Schank said at Learning Technologies this year that what really gets the learners’ attention is a surprise – something that they were not expecting. So many e-learning programmes are just a flat line in attention (if that exists at all) and since it is the same all through their attention never varies. So if at some point you do something totally different and the more bizarrre the better you can more or less guarantee that you get the learners’ attention. Time to bring on a gorilla….