As a student, I have always wondered why it was so easy to remember the lyrics of my favorite songs than those mathematical theorems in my textbooks. Today, as an instructional designer I can perhaps figure out why. If I find something attractive and interesting, I take extra efforts to learn and remember it for the long term. This principle can be applied to our eLearning courses as well to ensure learner’s engagement with the course.
Of course, we have learning design principles and learning theories that tell us how to go about it. In this blog, I will give you 10 simple tips that basically captures the essence of those theories or principles.
Here is the list that should be kept in mind.
1. Relevant Content: Many of the online courses become boring and uninteresting because of irrelevant content in the course. The content in theeLearning course must have direct relevance to learners. If the information shared in the course is not relevant, they will not pay attention to the content and the purpose is defeated. eLearning course content should be learner-centric, catering to their immediate learning requirements – that which will have a positive effect in their jobs. When chunking and presenting content, we need to consider that all learners may not have the same background and expertise. Content should be presented in such a way that it is not too basic for experienced learners and too complicated for novices. If your learners fall under such a wide spectrum, it is best to divide the content into introductory, intermediate and advanced and allows leaners to start the course from where they are comfortable.
2. Meaningful images: Usage of images are the most important part of eLearning; you can even say that they are the life of a course. Many of the times people would refer to a book with pictorial presentation rather than a book with heavy theories and content. The same thing is true for an eLearning course. However, we can’t just keep an image for the sake of its presence. Keeping leaners in mind the image should be selected or created in such a way that it aids in learning and helps learners to remember the content better.
3. Standard fonts and size: Standardized fonts and sizes in a course play an important role in providing visual clarity and structure. Just as in classroom training, there are some standards and manuals that are followed; eLearning also needs to adhere to similar standards. Fonts and sizes provide visual clue to learners on what is important and needs more attention. It also helps in categorizing content into the Heading, Sub-text and body. For example, the text in bold emphasizes important information or heading or an actions that needs to be taken.
4. Interesting interactivities: Learners get tired and bored of reading heavy text in the course; more so if they simply have to keep clicking on the “next” button and move ahead. So, to make a course engaging and interesting in a way that learners are stimulated right till the end of the course, interesting interactivities need to include.
Let us take an example of a course where you need to explain the “Process of Communication.” You need to share about 7 important elements, instead of giving the content in the usual “Traditional Tabs” format. We can use “Sticky Notes”with animated characters around them. This makes the presentation more lively and interesting.
5. Prior knowledge or information: Prior knowledge is what the learner already knows before taking the course. When the course builds on the existing knowledge of learners, they are motivated to continue with building the knowledge. It is because the course acknowledges what they know, making them feel connected with the content. Learners acknowledge the opportunity to improve their learning because the new information is linked up with the prior knowledge and thus the learning process takes place with less resistance.
6. Use of games for the assessments: Games are something like an extra topping on the on ice-cream. They make the course much more interesting and appealing. It’s like a trick where the learner retains the information in a very funny and interesting way without the usual strain that is associated when the word assessment is even uttered.
7. Problem solving (application of knowledge acquired): The focus should not just be on the concept of learning; in fact the learner should be given space to use acquired knowledge in order to solve a problem. Learners need challenges that make them active and not be provided with spoon-fed content. So giving them the tasks in the form of puzzles and activities then getting them to use the knowledge acquired will make them be more engaged in the process of learning.
8. Small bytes of Information: Heavy content is quite uninspiring to anyone and it is the same with our learners. It is difficult to grasp pages and pages of content. The very sight of a slide or a screen with heavy content might strain the mental faculties of learners and demotivate them.
“Short simple information” is easier to assimilate; so giving information in small bits will help learners to grasp content quickly and easily. Chunking is the answer to reduced cognitive overload on learners. If the content seems to be heavy for one single screen, we can always chunk and divide them into two screens and proceed. Here are a few tips to simplify the presentation of information:
- Break, into steps and use bullets or numbers, if the information is a process.
- Assign what information should come first and what last keeping the perspective of learners in mind.
- Rewrite the sentences such that they are short, simple and easy to comprehend.
- Use tabular formats for summarizing large amounts of information in a systematic way.
- Use side headings in an organized way to emphasize the main topic and sub-topics.
9. Real-life scenario and cases: Adult learners are more responsive when they can apply what they have learned to real-life situations. So, presenting them with real-life scenarios will help them to better appreciate the relevance and importance of the knowledge they acquired and motivate them to give their 100% to the course. For example, assume that your organization has launched a new product and wants to train your sales team on the benefits of the new product. Creating client scenarios where a sales executive is explaining the benefits of the product responding to difficult questions by customers could give valuable clues to sales people on how to confront customer objections.
10 Motivating the learner: The last but not least is motivation, which is the key to success for any learning initiative. This can be done by showing learners what are they capable of and what they can achieve on completing the course. We can motivate the learners during the process of learning and even before they take the course. While soliciting registrations for the course or when assigning the course to learners, it is important to share the benefits of completing the course – how the course will help them do their jobs better or how it is going to make their jobs easier. During the course, learners can be motivated by adding a little bit of humor or fun to the course, as it reduces stress levels and refreshes learners mentally.
Training plays a dynamic role in any organization for a successful future; so the more learners are engaged with the course, the more will they learn and fulfill their individual as well as organizational goals. Do you find these tips useful? Do you have any further suggestions to add to the points mentioned above? Do share them here.