As an instructional designer it’s important to consider while designing a course whether it’s going to gain your learners’ attention or not.
According to Robert Gagne, there are nine events that provide a framework for an effective learning process. Among this, the first event is to gain learners’ attention. Today’s learners’ seem to be very distracted because of phone calls, tweets, e-mails, text messages etc. Amidst all these distractions and pressures, instructional designers are expected to design courses that will gain learners’ attention and maintain the pace throughout the course.
Let’s see some instructional design elements that can be used to gain the learners’ attention and maintain it till the end of the online course.
Gain the attention of the learners at the beginning of the course
To gain learners’ attention, attention-gaining devices should be included at the beginning of the online learning course.
Let’s see an example: Do you remember the moment when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world? The launch statement by him for this product was that Apple was going to launch a three devices-wide screen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough Internet communicator. Then he presented all the three features into just one device – iPhone. That was an amazing and rocking way to introduce this new product! It was enough to get the attention of the audience. They remained completely engrossed throughout the show.
As instructional designers, what we can learn from Steve Jobs is that, catching the attention of the learners’ at the beginning of the course makes them more motivated and interested in going through the entire course. This can be done using ice breakers, short video clip, case studies, avatars etc. at the beginning of the online course.
Use of Analogies
In the learning process, analogies play a significant role. We search for similarities when we look at something new. The acceptance is more when the similarities are more.
Example: In the 1980’s, when Steve Jobs introduced the Macintosh operating system, the starting screen was called the desktop. It was not a desktop really, so they used this sort of analogy to make the concepts of digital world familiar to users through the concepts of the real world they are familiar with.
One of the effective eLearning design strategies that we can learn from Steve Jobs is analogy. When this sort of approach is used in eLearning, the overall learning process will be very effective. In the learning process the learners’ understand new concepts by relating it with their existing knowledge.
Make content relevant
In the eLearning course, the content must have direct relevance to learners. Learners’ will not pay attention to the content if the information is not relevant. E-learning course content should be learner-centric; learners’ connect only when they find that the training is going to be relevant to them. For learners’ to get connected to the learning we can use real images, scenarios, videos, and simulations so that learners’ find some relevance to it.
Here is an example from one of our courses, where we have used work place incidents as scenarios, and real images to make the online course content more relevant to the learners.
Keep the content logically structured
Proper content structure can have a huge impact on gaining learners’ attention. It’s important to keep the content logically structured because it helps them to easily accommodate new information, in their existing knowledge base. If the content is not organized properly, it moves the learner’s attention away in no time. For this, the content is divided into modules and on completion of this, the learners’ feel satisfied and a sense of accomplishment is achieved.
Visualize your content
As we all know, humans are visual creatures and therefore the best way to learn and understand a concept is to actually see it. That’s why they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” If the content is not properly visualized, the learner will not be able to grasp the information easily. Thereby, it’s always preferable to make the content more visual as this will have a better and lasting impression on the learners’ brain.
Let’s see an example: If the content is about the examples of the natural resources like water, wind, and solar energy, then we can represent this content in a more appealing way by adding images. This makes the information come alive! By this, the understanding becomes very clear to the learners. By this style of presentation, we can hold the learners’ interest throughout the online course.
Add humor in the course
While designing the online course, add some humor element, this helps in retaining the attention of the learners. Humor is considered to be an effective element which improves learners’ engagement. A dull and dry eLearning course can be changed made interesting and enjoyable by adding humor appropriately. It encourages learners’ who are less motivated to participate proactively. A good strategy for retention is by explaining a point by adding cartoons, quotes, or jokes. It helps learners’ to reduce anxiety and stress, feel comfortable, increase motivation, attention, and excitement.
Of course, there are numerous other ways to gain learners’ attention – so, while designing, what additional elements do you use?
Please do share your thoughts!