5 Ways To Prevent Information Overload In eLearning Courses

The challenge for building elearning courses is how to engage users and convey relevant information without going overboard and overwhelming the user.

Here are 5 tips to help streamline your courses and avoid information overload

1. Take it one subject at a time

It’s better to make several shorter courses on similar subjects than one extremely long elearning course. This is particularly important for complex subject matter, such as HIPAA compliance. Consider breaking the topic down for specific audiences (security, information management staff, direct care staff), rather the different lessons all together. Learners have a limited attention span and will retain information better when they can take breaks and digest information between courses. You can always bundle courses later to make them a coherent group.

2. Stick to a simple format

eLearning courses are often overwhelming when they have slides, videos, audio, charts, diagrams, and animations packed together. Find the best way to present your information and commit to it. This is not to say you can’t be creative; a video course may need slide transitions to open each new section for example. Just be wary of overloading the screen. The user cannot focus all of their attention on the information with so many distractions.

3. Clearly outline objectives

Prepare the user for what is ahead. If people know what’s coming they’ll be less overwhelmed or burned out. When building elearning courses, clearly state how many lessons and/or quizzes the user will encounter, as well as how much time the course should take. Explain briefly what will be taught in each lesson--a bulleted list is perfect to outline your objectives. No need to share all the goods up front! Keep it simple and follow up with a more detailed introduction before jumping into your information.

4. Cut extraneous info

Adding lots of detail to your course can be difficult to avoid, which is why it’s key to refer back your objectives. Is this information critical for the participant to be able to show competency at the end of the course? Help the user focus on only the “need to know” information. For example, if a course covers a government mandated subject, include only what is required by law. This way, learners can focus on only critical information.

5. Summarize effectively

Once you’ve presented the relevant information to your learner, it’s time to wrap it up. Don’t feel the need to reteach the course in your conclusion. Relate it back to your initial learning objectives-- again, a bulleted list is helpful here. Hit your main points, then wrap it up. At this point, your user can choose to go back to sections they want to review or go directly to the final exam (if your course has one).

Do you have any other tips for avoiding information overload when building elearning courses or examples of great courses? Share them in the comments!

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