5 Ideas To Getting Online Learners’ Attention

5 Ideas To Getting Online Learners’ Attention
Summary: Getting learners' attention and holding onto it is a problem that most course creators and educators face. So what can they do to bring learners in and keep them engaged? This article lists down 5 ideas that could work.

How To Get Online Learners’ Attention

Online learning is very different from traditional classroom learning. There is no face-to-face interaction with the learners, you don’t get to see or hear them in real-time, and hence you don’t even get to know their reaction to what you deliver. But to successfully attain the learning objectives, it is essential that learners engage well with your course. You, as a course developer, need to figure out ways that help catch their attention and, in turn, engage them to the course. Here are 5 ideas that could make your life easier:

1. Open With Interesting Facts/Fiction, Or Throw A Challenge

Present attention-grabbing facts, fiction, or any other information to engage learners at the onset. You could also throw a challenge that stimulates their thinking. Lying about a known fact is a unique way to challenge their minds. They will want to learn more about the situation when they feel they have been lied to. They will want to prove you wrong and, in the process, engage with the course.

2. Let Them Play

Why do young kids grow up so quickly intellectually? It is because they get to play. Play teaches them to try different things, fail, learn, and grow. Your students (of any age) are the same as these kids. When you create interactive content for them, don’t just give them the content and walk away. Let them play and explore. The whole point of gamification is to make eLearning more fun and rewarding. If things are more fun, we are more likely to do them. When you incorporate game mechanics (leaderboards, points, badges, levels, etc.) in your learning modules, you will find that engagement shoots up like Jack’s magic beanstalk. So, award badges to your learners for starting the online learning unit, give them points for progressing through it and let them see their name on a leaderboard once they pass a level with brownie points. Refer to this quick guide for some additional tips on effectively incorporating game mechanics in your online learning modules.

3. Include Interactions

Interactivity and engagement go hand in hand. When you develop your content, make sure you make learners interact with the content in a different way than they usually do. No one likes learning from the same type of slides or the same boring presentation. Bullet points are boring. Don’t turn off your learners with them. Turn your content into an interactive flipbook or make it into a pyramid or a build-up process or diagram. Even when creating an interactive game, change it up from the usual. Try a spin the wheel, million dollar quiz, or something as unique as the slot machine. The key is to change the way learners can practice their skills so that they won’t get bored with the same thing all the time. Use an interactivity building tool like Raptivity to be able to build any such digital interactions rapidly.

4. Use Humor

Nothing wins attention like a good joke. Joke about yourself, the weather, the irony of a concept, anything can work if used appropriately. Humor is known to get people comfortable and build a positive learning environment. Preferably use it at the start or end and avoid using it when emphasizing on a key point. Another important thing to remember while using humor is to ensure that it is understood correctly. If the humor is understood, it increases attention. If the learner cannot resolve the incongruity, he or she may experience confusion instead of humor, which is not an optimal state of learning. (Wanzer et al., 2010)

Keep humor relevant, lighthearted, and use it in moderation to get the best results. You might also enjoy this very interesting read [1] on the use of humor in online learning.

5. Incorporate Video

Who doesn’t like watching a video? Forrester Research estimates that one minute of online video equates to approximately 1.8 million written words. In addition, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. This indicates visual education aids like video can improve learning styles and increase the rate at which we retain information.

Video is the ultimate show-and-tell in this era of YouTube and Netflix. Leverage it whenever and wherever you can in your online learning.

Do you have some tried-and-tested tricks to get your learners’ attention? I would love to know about them. Share through comments below.


  1. Does Humor Enhance Learning?