Harry is a junior sales executive. He has been with his present organization for a year. Harry was assigned to complete an online sales training program by his manager. After a hectic day’s work, he returned to his room and opened his laptop and started taking the online course that was assigned to him. During the session, he yawned repeatedly, sat with his hand on the forehead, showed no signs of interest in the course and then finally signed out. After for a while, he went online, chatted with his colleagues regarding the futility of the training session, participated in animated discussion online and exchanged ideas over a variety of subjects, got rid of his initial boredom and then slept.
What is it that the chat with colleagues gave Harry that the online course didn’t? It’s interactivity. Harry, who showed no motivation to complete the online course actively, interacted with his colleagues. What is that made him to participate actively with his colleagues? Well, we can say that it is the human element that is inherent in our interactions. Our brain responds well to human touch. Now the question is can such a human touch be included in online courses?
Let us see how to make the online learning more social by adding human elements to it, so that Harry never again finds eLearning courses less engaging.
Involve human character in the course
Present the course to the learner through a character who acts as guide, talks to the learner throughout the course and guides him with feedback at the end.
For example consider an online course which focuses on selling skills to the sales people. Here, create an avatar of an experienced sales manager who interacts with the learner and trains him, using conversational style. At the end of the course, give him a scenario based question with the character guiding him and providing feedback for answers he clicks.
Link the learner to the characters
Get the learner to feel that he is involved in the course and the content totally relates to him. Introduce the character who is in similar situation as the learner and make him learn as the course progresses; this makes the learner relate to the character making the courses more personalized.
For example, take a sales training course which trains the sales people on basic selling skills related to the medical equipment. In this course, a character that mimics the learner has been created i.e. Bob as a junior sales representative facing some problem selling medical equipment to a hospital administrator. His problem is solved by another character in the course, who represents a senior sales manager. He takes him through the selling process and gives him selling tips, which come handy while selling the product.
Keep the content in conversation style
Make courses using conversation style, as learners find it easy to engage with such content. Using personal tone is one way to make this happen. For example the conversation style between the junior sales person and senior sales person, in the above case should be in active voice rather than passive. Make the conversation at a personal level by using phrases such as “You got it right” instead of just “Correct”.
Such an approach makes eLearning courses far more engaging, interactive and social. Learners such as Harry would no longer yawn while taking them and do not consider them as impersonal and boring. Therefore, to ensure that your online courses do not have high drop-out rate, add some human element to them. If you have come across courses with human element, do share your views and reactions about the same.