4 Effective Strategies To Engage eLearners

How To Engage eLearners: Learning Strategies

With so many ways to consume content, today’s learners want training to compete with the many sources of information and online activities that vie for their attention. In our fast-paced environment, we are constantly busy with multiple tasks on multiple devices. Today’s learners want training that relates to them on a personal level and shows relevance in their lives; they don’t engage with it, unless it connects with them on a personal or emotional basis. Here are 4 effective learning strategies to engage eLearners:

1. Make Introductions

Let the learners introduce themselves! Consider providing a diagnostic activity at the beginning of your course that allows your learners to self-assess their actual or perceived needs. This can be done through a survey or short knowledge check. Their answers can be reflected back to them in a summary screen and matched up to specific content found in your training offering. The results of an initial assessment may be enlightening to the learner and provide additional motivation to maintain focus throughout the training course.

2. Create A Memory

To engage eLearners, connect with them by asking a question that accesses prior knowledge or previous experiences. For example, “Do you remember the last time a customer experience exceeded your expectations?”. Thought provoking questions like this may trigger memories in learners that help them relate to or engage with your content.

Another strategy to engage the learner is to present a story that provides real life context and application for the content in your course. Learners will remember stories that catch their attention and that relate to their own environment. In addition to showing real world benefits, stories can help us feel connected with a community of learners. Paul J. Zak, PhD, in his article on Mind & Body, explains how stories can shape our brains and connect us with other people.

3. Show Your Personality

Give your eLearning course a personality to emotionally engage your audience. Just as it’s important to understand your audience, your eLearning course needs a voice to connect with users on a more personal level. This can be done through tone and writing style. For example, an element of humor can keep the learner's attention as they navigate the content.

Personality can also be expressed in the overall UI/UX design of your training course. Is your site warm and friendly or austere and distant? Does it use illustrations, graphics, or photos? Graphic elements can reflect the company culture and attitudes. For examples, photos that show a more traditionally corporate environment cue the user to expect a more formal experience, and vice versa. User interface elements as simple as button styles and typography, define the user experience and ultimately user engagement.

4. Surprise And Delight

Make your course salient by sprinkling interactive nuggets of information that can supplement the user with additional content for understanding. Examples of this include audio and video assets that enhance the training experience and engage the learner for longer periods of time. Audio and video strategies provide the learner with additional information about tone and body language that can improve comprehension and engagement. Content that stands out or surprises the learner can focus attention and facilitate the learning process.

Another strategy to engage eLearners is through gamification, which allows them to interact with your content in new and exciting ways. Catherine O’Neil in her article 5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Gamification explains how gamification can increase engagement rather than remove learners’ focus from the task at hand. Gamification, designed well, allows learners to apply their knowledge while motivating them through elements such as scores, leader boards, and badges.

Final Thoughts 

Maintaining eLearners’ attention requires variety in interactive design techniques, as well as a concerted effort to know and understand the needs and skill level of your audience and to connect with them through content that is applicable to their real world environment. eLearning is more engaging when we remember Aaron Walter’s advice from Designing For Emotion: “We’re not just designing (instructional) pages. We’re designing human experiences.”

Another way to engage users is to reach them when and where they most need information. Converting your legacy Flash courses to HTML5 can help you expand access to information. Learn more in Allen Communication’s eBook Flash To HTML5 Redesign.

eBook Release: AllenComm
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