Friction In Learning: Don’t Hold Your Learners Back!

What You Need To Know About Friction In Learning

Did you ever wonder why some websites or applications are a pleasure to use and some just feel like a chore? Keeping users engaged with a system is a dark art and it can seem like developers either don’t know or don’t care about user experience.

If a Learning Management System is awkward to use, difficult to navigate, or just simply plain ugly, nobody will spend their time using it. At best, you’ve just wasted your training budget on a platform that doesn’t get results. At worst, the learners don’t learn anything, they can’t progress in their careers and productivity and profits suffer as a result. Not only have you wasted the money, but you’ve found new ways to lose it.

The difference between a system that’s intuitive and one that isn’t is simple: the people who develop intuitive systems have done everything they can to make them easier to use. A large part of this process is eliminating the things that harm the user experience.

What Is Friction?

Friction is a term that’s more familiar to web designers and online marketers, but it’s equally relevant in learner engagement. It’s loosely defined as anything that prevents the user from using the system efficiently. This could be anything from slow loading times to a confusing user interface. Low levels of friction are mildly annoying, whereas high levels can stop your learners using the LMS completely.

So, as you can appreciate, friction is something you should try to remove whenever you see it – but how on earth do you find those friction points? Read on, because I’m going to tell you what to look for and how to fix the issues so there’s nothing holding your learners back from gaining more super powers!

Eliminating The Causes Of Friction In Learning: 4 Problems And Their Solutions

1. Problem: Historical Stigma

Boring online learning experiences have been around for a long time. The reign of dull training has left learners feeling jaded and cynical. This is the first, and arguably most important barrier to success that you need to overcome. Your learners are expecting their training to be poorly produced, long-winded distractions from their working day. Do you want to confirm their suspicions...?

Solution: Think Like A Learner

Take a fresh look at the learning journey. I don’t mean ‘spend an hour looking at the platform’; I mean that you should start the journey as a learner and work through every stage – however long that takes. Does the experience make you feel like you can become the superhero you were born to be? Or does it just seem like a chore that you ‘have to’ do? You should know your learners better than anyone and you’ll know what will get them excited. Once you’ve changed their perception, the biggest cause of friction is out of the way!

2. Problem: Everything Takes Too Long

So, you’re knee-deep in your learning-engagement audit and you’re ready to move onto the next task. Oh look, how delightful, it’s ANOTHER 45-minute eLearning unit! Maybe you’ve lost interest in the entire exercise by now, but remember: your learners’ future is at stake here! Systemic issues like page loading times are a minor nuisance by comparison, but these are also important to look out for.

Solution: Keep The Learning Bite-Sized

Wouldn’t it be better if your learners logged in for ten minutes every day, than for one hour every few months? The key to securing that kind of long-term commitment is to break your training into small, digestible parts that can be accessed on any device. It’s also important to show them where they are on their journey. A simple progress bar will let them see how much they’ve done, and it might even give them the push they need to complete it!

3. Problem: It’s Difficult To Understand

Take a look at the content itself, paying particular attention to how it’s written. If it’s written in indecipherable corporate double-speak, or in a way that doesn’t chime with your learners, they’ll waste valuable brain-power trying to work out what it means. This is a common problem in many learning programs. In a lot of cases, the material is written by an expert who knows the topic inside-out. They can easily assume a level of knowledge that’s beyond the learners’ ability to understand it.

Solution: A Fresh Pair Of Eyes

It’s all too easy to get so familiar with the training content that you can’t even see it any more. It can be helpful to ask for a second opinion from someone who doesn’t already know the content inside and out. Thanks to your LMS, those people are easy to find – your reporting tools should tell you who has accessed the content most recently. You could email them and ask for their opinions or, if you have the functionality, you can push a survey to that group on the LMS. Their feedback might just help you see the content in a new light and look for ways to make it clearer.

4. Problem: The Training Is Ugly And Boring

Cast your mind back to the internet of the 90s. In an age when web design was in its infancy, those earlier, text-heavy websites look pretty hideous compared to the wizardry of today. By using a wide variety of media in just the right amounts, web designers added the wow factor. Sadly, many LMS developers missed that meeting and now their platforms look like exhibits in the Museum of Internet History. The learners that use them have to push themselves to make it through the content that time forgot. The platforms in turn suffer from low engagement while your learners make jokes about it behind your back.

Solution: Create A Learning Environment

If your platform isn’t stunning, engaging and easy to use, you need a new platform! You need to find one that gives you the flexibility to create the perfect online learning environment for your learners. Look for a solution that has an up-to-date, responsive interface to make sure it can satisfy the web user of today. On top of that, the LMS needs to be 100% customizable, letting you (and your design team) build a platform that has real meaning for the learners. If you want your learners to stick around, make them feel at home!

Final Words

If you only take one lesson away from this article, make it this: The best way to improve engagement on your learning platform is to look at it through a learner’s eyes. Whatever bores you or confuses you will likely put your learners to sleep or leave them scratching their heads. Make the effort to create learning experiences with the learner at their center and the only challenge you’ll have is providing enough content to satisfy them!

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