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Leveraging Distractions – A Surprisingly Innovative Way for Creating Better Online Learning Experience

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Leveraging Distractions - A Surprisingly Innovative Way for Creating Better Online Learning Experience

Distractions while learning

We have always been told that learning cannot happen if the learner is distracted while in the process of learning. Isn’t it true? We know that some learners can be distracted easily during training programs. If the instructional strategy of your e-learning program is not very effective, then the chances of the learner being distracted and not acquiring the required information will be quite high.

We often try to find out a way to avoid distractions during the training program. We should not look for such ways. Instead, we need to work in the opposite direction and use distractions to facilitate a better learning experience. Wondering how on earth a platform that needs learners’ complete attention facilitates a learning experience while the learner is being constantly distracted? Let me tell you, we all have been following this approach since a long time, successfully acquiring great amount of information, and also retaining it for a long time. Want to know how?

Real life examples of distractions that facilitate information

Do you remember, before Smartphones came into existence, we used to subscribe to messaging portals for live cricket or soccer score updates, latest news, jokes, inspirational or romantic messages, etc.? Now, we subscribe to similar websites which send us such information every day through e-mails. There is no prescribed time for receiving these e-mails. But whenever we receive one, we checke it with much curiosity regardless of the place, time, and the work we were involved in. Even when you are in an important conference and you receive such an alert, may be a live soccer score, you feel the urge to check it out. You sometimes even do so. If you are not in a position to check, you do not forget to check it immediately after your task finishes.

Aren’t these called distractions? Aren’t these distractions facilitating some learning? So why not leverage such distractions into e-learning and make your training programs more effective? Let us know how this can be made possible.

What can e-learning professionals do to facilitate such learning experiences?

Instead of creating heavy courses, create byte-sized videos and infographics which are more interesting to watch. Once learners sign up for a particular topic on the LMS, you can show them a list of what all is covered under it, I mean the learning objectives, and let them exit. Then, you can send one important learning point in the form of an infographic or a byte-sized video at regular intervals depending on the number of learning objectives. For example, if the topic has 6 learning objectives you can send one mail or alert every hour until the end of the working day. You must make sure that one mail or alert contains only one learning point which will not take the learner more than 2 minutes to complete.

How will this help?

Such learning situations, like social networking alerts, will distract the employee from the task he has been doing for about 2-3 minutes. But, the learning will be effective and will be retained for long. Learners will neither have the feeling of attending training sessions nor going through content-heavy and never-ending e-learning courses but still, by the end of the day, will have gained the necessary information.

This may be debatable and may not have any strong research behind it to prove its effectiveness, but you can always sneak into your past personal experiences. You might have been in an important chat with your colleague when your conversation was interrupted by a notification flashing on your mobile screen. You stopped the conversation to see what it is about and saw that was a marketing e-mail offering you a discount on some product. This was a distraction of only a few seconds but the next day if you are asked, “What was the e-mail about you received during our important chat?” You say “Ah! That was a stupid marketing message offering me discount on the new Smartphone.” Such learning experiences are very effective and let you retain information for longer period of time.

This was my opinion on leveraging distractions for effective learning. What’s yours?

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