The average online user’s attention span is a mere 8 seconds. That presents a challenge for eLearning, since this fast-growing market has become the go-to method of instruction for employee training.
So how do you keep learners engaged and motivated? Is it possible to extend attention spans? How do you create compelling learning experiences that accomplish learning goals and ensure ROI on training programs?
The answer is to focus on three elements:
- Who: the target audience (learners)
- What: the course structure
- How: the course delivery
These elements form the foundation of instructional design.
What is Instructional Design?
As the name implies, instructional design is the intentional learner-centered process of planning learning courses' structure, flow, and delivery to create a practical learner experience. It enhances the learning journey, makes the process interactive, and turns learners into problem-solvers who look forward to participating and aren’t simply eager to check the training box. By using various models, instructional designers can deliver high-quality training programs that are impactful and engaging.
Benefits of Instructional Design
By putting learners at the center of the course design, you equip them to get the most out of their learning. When you meet their needs, you improve the impact on learning.
Engagement and Motivation
The most effective courses grab the learner’s attention. Learners feel motivated to continue and work towards their learning goals.
Taking a personalized approach helps create simulations as close to real-world scenarios as possible. Practicing real-life situations makes for better knowledge retention and application.
One goal of eLearning is to influence behavior by turning knowledge into practice. Learners feel encouraged to act on what they have learned.
Best Design Strategies for Effective eLearning
1. Clear objectives
Training is most effective when the learner has a clear idea of the goals of the training and knows what to expect from the course. As it progresses, they can see where it is going and the direction they should take. It will ease the uncertainty affecting their willingness to engage in the material.
2. Know your audience
Once you outline objectives, the next step is to become familiar with the learners who will access the training modules. Personalize learning, so users benefit as much as possible from the training based on their role. Play to their strengths.
Conveying course content via various media, such as videos, podcasts, graphics, slideshows, images, etc., allows learners to consume the content more efficiently.
Regular switching of the course material also keeps them engaged, prevents learning fatigue, and helps identify what works best for them individually.
Audio-visual content also has high retention power, holding the user’s attention more than text-based material.
4. Break it down
Microlearning breaks down courses into 15–20-minute, bite-sized modules. By keeping the units short, engagement stays high, and learners have added flexibility in tackling them.
Context can translate theoretical concepts into real-life examples. The more practical and relatable the training, the greater the retention and easier the real-life application.
Scenario-based learning is an effective tool in workforce training because it provides content they can immediately use.
How you pace courses will also affect learner attention, engagement, and retention. Keep in mind that there will be fast and slow learners in any group, so consider their background when determining an average pace that works for everyone.
Include bonus material for the fast learners, so they don’t get bored. Dividing longer sections into smaller subsections also helps with pacing.
Injecting learning with some healthy competition can be a motivator. Gamification introduces challenges and rewards. Making the learner the main character in a story allows them to guide their learning journey.
Giving them the ability to choose scenarios and change direction allows them to explore, sparking interest and curiosity.
We love a good story, and it’s a way to hold learners’ attention, especially if there are relatable characters or the learner is the main character. Story elements such as a plot, conflict, and resolution at the end keep users invested in outcomes.
4. Immersive technology
Greater use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) provides hands-on interactivity and stimulation for engagement tools, not to mention practicality and fun. They’re beneficial for simulating risky situations you can’t replicate.
You want your learners to get maximum value from the course, so you’ll want to design a system of evaluation that allows learners to provide feedback. This will help you understand how they interact with the material and note ways to improve the course content and structure.
You also want learners to get assessment feedback before they complete the course to understand their progress clearly.
Instructional Design is about putting learners at the core of the exercise to create exciting experiences that are less of a chore and more of an activity that employees are eager and motivated to participate in.
The result: accomplishing learning and business objectives and delivering ROI.
Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.