5 Tips To Transform Your Training Materials Into Engaging eLearning

How To Transform Your Training Materials Into Engaging eLearning

Engaging, motivating, inspiring, making a difference… These are the foundations of any successful learning experience. In the course of time, more and more companies are switching to eLearning; that being said, the transformation of content to an eLearning format requires applying some key elements that help achieve an excellent transition. Here are 5 Keys that will help you transform your existing training materials into engaging eLearning:

1. Adapt Your Content

Your existing training materials provide a great start to transition to the eLearning world, however what works well in Instructor-Led Training (ILT) does not necessarily translate to the eLearning environment. That is why it’s necessary to select and filter information; do not copy and paste! The content needs to be targeted and organized specifically for eLearning purposes, taking into consideration the course format, learning objectives, and audience.

2. Go Beyond Factual Information

Is your material loaded with data? Is there a lot of “extra” information? Just adding words to a screen won’t do you any good; audiences get easily distracted when they are bombarded with statistics and heavy text.

To avoid this issue, try to be more creative by building a story around the facts. Stories and scenarios increase the level of interest of your audience and “by helping learners integrate knowledge into their mental models in meaningful ways, the realistic context of a story makes information easier to remember”.1

Your objective is to develop courses that communicate content correctly, where learners are able to understand and become better at their jobs.

3. Keep It Short And Simple

Even though there is not a specific formula to determine the appropriate length of an eLearning course, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when leveraging your training materials:

  • Keep audiences stimulated.
    James Cutting, a psychiatrist from Cornell University, discovered there is a natural rhythm of the human attention span. Our brains require a stimulus change every few seconds in order to remain attentive.2  Think about how you can introduce the concept of natural rhythm in your learning offerings, perhaps by breaking up segments with video, quizzes, interactive modules and games.
  • Find the perfect length.
    In any given workweek, employees have about 1% of their time available to focus on learning and development.3 So it is critical that your training courses accommodate their busy schedules. Identify how you can break down large pieces of information into bite-sized segments.

4. Use Interaction

Generally speaking, most people would pick an interactive learning experience over a lecture any day. To deliver a learning experience, they must feel a part of it. Over the past few years the learning technology industry has seen an outpouring of innovation around gamification and social learning features, aimed at delivering a dynamic and engaging learning experience. Gamification techniques, like leaderboards, progress bars, activity feeds, mini-competitions, and badges get the learner to think about what they’re learning in a more engaging way.

There are 4 engagement levels based on the extent of interactivity in the eLearning process:

Passive Interactivity

It refers to the general actions that need to take place for a course to function correctly. This includes navigation, page animation, object animation, and a combination of true or false and multiple choice questions.

Limited Interactivity

It includes the actions listed in the passive level, along with some additional features. These features give learners more control over their course experience. Examples of limited interaction include the addition of clickable graphics, audio, video, basic activities such as drag and drops, and modifications to navigation like a drop down menu or links to external resources.

Moderate Interactivity

It comprises both passive and limited interactivity with an additional level. This level gives learners the feeling of a more complex course and gives developers the chance to customize the experience with advanced programming. Moderate interactivity can include animated videos, customized audio, intermediate level simulations, scenario-based examples, and Flash-style animation.

Simulation

The final engagement level is a full simulation or game-based interaction. This is where you combine elements of passive, limited, and moderate, along with some new types of interactions. At this level the learner experiences the highest level of engagement. This level usually includes gamification, advanced or 3D simulations, a variety of multimedia, and a guide or avatar.4

Applying some of this interactive techniques is a great way to make your audience feel like part of the program.

5. Increase Motivation

The goal of engaging eLearning is to create meaningful performance change in the learners; they should be able to do something when they’re finished with the lesson that they couldn’t do before. However, even the best lessons in the world won't accomplish this goal if your learners are not motivated.

Edward Deci and Richard Ryan's self-determination theory (SDT)5 proposes all humans require the satisfaction of three basic psychological needs:

  • Competence (a sense of being able to do something).
  • Autonomy (a sense of control and freedom).
  • Relatedness (a sense of being associated or connected to others).

There is a number of strategies that can be used to create conditions that facilitate the internalization of motivation from within our learners:

  • Give learners some level of control as they work through the course.
  • Provide regular, meaningful feedback throughout the learning experience.
  • Incorporate social elements.
  • Provide opportunities for collaboration between learners, when possible.
  • Keep the stakes low and allow learners to practice.
  • Allow learners to make meaningful choices and pursue challenging goals.

Contexts that satisfy these basic needs will support people's actions, resulting in more optimal motivation and positive outcomes.

 

References:

  1. Storytelling in eLearning: The why and how
  2. Attention Span and Performance Improvement, Kailym Islam, Training Industry Magazine, March 2013
  3. Meet the Modern Learner, Bersin by Deloitte, 2015
  4. eLearning 101: A Practical Guide, Trivantis, 2015
  5. Improving Motivation in eLearning
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