9 Tips To Improve Online Learners’ Engagement

9 Online Learning Tips To Improve Online Learners’ Engagement
Summary: With the coming of Internet, the way learning is imparted has undergone a drastic change. It is no longer limited to teachers giving lessons to the students physically located in front of them in the classrooms. Now they can teach students living in far off places through web based learning and educational materials. This has led to the proliferation of various kinds of online materials devised for students, working professionals, and others who want to acquire new skills and knowledge. But teaching students physically present in a class is quite different from teaching individuals located in far away locations.

How To Improve Online Learners’ Engagement

The most online learners do not have a teacher at their place to explain things to them. Online learners cannot raise their questions before a teacher who can promptly provide answers to them. So, they do face difficulty in understanding things clearly while receiving education through online learning courses.

Their problem magnifies even more when teachers and professionals designing online courses do not give due attention to making things simple for them. As a result, online learners get to see too much of text, images, links,and graphics in their online course matter and they do not know on which online learning elements they should focus upon. There is hardly any cohesiveness and consistency in the learning message imparted to them. The navigation of these online courses is far from easy. Sometimes images relevant to the online course matter are not there. Instead those images are added which make the online learning material look pretty and have no relation with an online course’s theme. This can confuse the online learners.

Such anomalies which arise due to lack of harmony in the online learning design elements make it hard for students to focus, understand, and learn things in the desired way. So, they become disengaged, unmotivated, and disinterested in their online learning courses. Consequently, they are forced to opt out of these online learning courses. Thus, they miss the chance to learn new skills and knowledge from expert tutors/professionals because of not up to the mark online learning designs. This is a serious matter and needs to be addressed on a priority basis for the benefit of online learners and the people teaching them.

By focusing on the below stated key points in the online learning design practices, the quality of online learning courses can be remarkably improved. This will boost online learners’ engagement and help them to easily understand things. So, they will be able to learn new skills, imbibe knowledge and put them to use for adding value to their lives.

  1. Removing excess image, text, and graphics.
    Some online learning courses are stuffed with too many images, text, links, and graphics. Tutors while designing these online courses think that it will be beneficial for online learners if they are provided with greater amount of study material. But this instead of doing any good, confuses the online learners. They are unable to differentiate which items in an online course are relevant, important for them and which are not. Lack of structuring of text makes it appear as a noise which kills the interest of an online learner on merely seeing it. Too many images in an online course material take the focus away from the course’s theme. So an online learner is unable to make out what a tutor is trying to convey to him. For improved online learners’ engagement, it becomes necessary to remove any extra graphics, images and text and just persist with minimum of items. These should be properly structured and neatly arranged. It is okay to have enough white space in the course material rather than filling it with unneeded and unrelated items. Keeping minimum of text along with a few images which are aligned with an online course’s theme is the only way to retain an online learner’s interest and motivate him to further pursue the online course.
  2. Choosing the right fonts.
    Fonts for the text in an online course should be carefully chosen. These should not be too flashy, so as to distract an online learner from the message of the instructional material and making him focus over its creative aspect. But fonts should be able to make the text look aesthetically pleasing for improved online learner engagement. Appropriate research should be undertaken on fonts while devising instructional material for small children, grown up students, working professionals and others as per their age group, psychology, maturity, responsiveness and understanding. A font which is suited for small children won’t work well for working professionals. A few chosen fonts should be used within instructional materials. Using too many fonts will result in confusion and distract the online learners.
  3. Choosing the right colors.
    It is important to use appropriate colors in the logos, images, links, text, and other items in the online course. Some colors boost online learners’ responsiveness while some cast a calming effect on them. There are some colors which are too offensive and these are not suited for online learners’ viewing and learning experience. So, colors should be chosen thoughtfully.
  4. Choosing high quality and relevant images.
    Online learners can pick a message easily and quickly if it features the right mix of text and images rather than purely text. Tutors need to make their online courses interesting and meaningful, so as to retain online learners’ attention by adding images relevant to the text. Images and text need to be harmonized to make the online students recognize it as a single entity and as a coherent message rather than loosely held items held together. Tutors should spend adequate time on thinking which images would fit a text well and then find or create these perfect images. The images should be of high quality and these should not get pixelated. They can click these images themselves if they have good knowledge about photography or they can hire a professional photographer for the same. They can also get these photos from stock photography sites which can be both free and paid. But before choosing photos from these sites, they need to ensure these do not have any royalty related issues with them.
  5. Easy navigation of online learning material.
    Lack of smooth navigation can make the going hard for the online learners. They should be able to navigate conveniently within an online course. Navigational aids like arrows, icons, and buttons need to be well designed, clearly visible, understood, and easily navigated. These should not be filled in with too much of creativity making it difficult for online learners to recognize what these aids are meant for. Their smooth navigation will motivate online students to explore various items in an online course material and thus, they can gain more from it.
  6. Supporting complex information with graphs and charts.
    There can be some complex, detailed technical and other information which has to be provided to the online learners. They will find it difficult to understand and grasp it without any supporting aids. It is better to provide graphs and charts with this complex information to let them understand a course matter with ease.
  7. Blurring background in the images.
    Some of the images put in an online course matter show things in the background which dilute the main content of an image, so users are unable to properly grasp its message. For this reason the background in an image needs to be blurred for enabling enhanced focus over its main content. So the online course’s message will be better understood by the online learners.
  8. Using headings, bullet points, etc. for proper structuring.
    Online course material provided to the online learners has to be structured well and properly organized. This can be done by putting headings, bullet points, making paragraphs, etc. where necessary. Key words can be highlighted by underlining, italicizing, and by using different colors. So online learners can quickly find out important things within a text.
  9. Using proofing tools.
    Tutors may not be able to design the online course instructional materials on their own. This may happen due to their lack of eLearning design knowledge or some items within an instructional material being too complex. So, tutors have to seek services of eLearning designers for getting designed online learning courses. This calls for collaboration among tutors and eLearning designers. Tutors have to explain to the eLearning designers what they want in an online course and eLearning designers will accordingly create one for them. By using online proofing tools like ProofHub, eLearning designers can quickly and conveniently get eLearning design feedback from distantly located tutors. So, they can accordingly modify and rectify the eLearning designs as per the tutors’ feedback. So, eLearning design creation projects can be successfully completed within limited time and budget.
  10. Consistency and cohesiveness in eLearning materials.
    The text, images, graphics, links, and other items within an online course should be able to give a single and coherent message to online learners. These items should not compete with each other for gaining online learners’ attention, but should be in perfect harmony with each other. They should be like a jigsaw puzzle when one element is removed, the picture is rendered incomplete. When all the items are harmoniously placed, they provide the full and clear picture to the online learners. So, they can better understand the online course’s message.

These online learning tips would not turn tutors into eLearning designers, but at least they would get an idea which areas in an eLearning design they need to focus on. So that they can do things correctly on their own or by seeking help from the eLearning designers. The aim is to ultimately improve online learners’ engagement and motivate them to extract the most from their online courses.