3 Things That Impact Learner Engagement And Session Time In Digital Learning

3 Things That Impact Learner Engagement And Session Time In Digital Learning
Summary: Keeping your audience engaged, so that they complete the content and demonstrate a positive change in behavior, is high on the list for learning designers. But what is the ideal session time? And what affects how long you keep your audience actually learning?

The Importance Of Session Time In Digital Learning

Today, there are many different forms of digital content constantly competing for our attention. That’s why it’s so important to ensure your learning experience is respectful of your audience’s time and delivers on its promise.

Getting the right length for your project will mean that your learner is:

  • As engaged as possible
  • Likely to complete your content
  • Willing to come back for additional content
  • And, most importantly, able to practice what they’ve learned in real life!

Your content needs to be long enough to successfully inform your audience and engage them, with enough to deliver on the learning objectives. But it should be short enough to maintain your learner’s attention and manage within the time available.

Dig deeper into the discussion on session time and discover the "TED Talk principle" here.

The average session time across 65,000 pieces of digital learning in Elucidat was 15 minutes. This seems like a long time compared to the average website visitor, who spends 2 minutes before moving on. So, what’s the secret to keeping people engaged for longer?

1. Type Of Content

Unsurprisingly, average session time is heavily dependent on the format of the content. For example, average session time on eCommerce websites is just 2 minutes, whereas blogs keep people reading for around 6 minutes. Video engagement commonly drops off after 3 minutes, but best practice for podcasts tends to be 15-18 minutes.

Depending on the type of learning, different content formats may be more appropriate. For example, on-the-job resources will need to be short and snappy. Training simulations and activities are likely to be longer and more involved.

Get more detail on different content types and engagement time.

2. Relevance

People are busy! Regardless of the duration of your content, they won’t stick with something that’s not relevant or they already feel familiar with. What’s more, information that isn’t relevant won’t be shared online or with others, which is bad news if you’re looking to expand your reach. Try:

  • Personalizing
    Respect your learner’s time by making sure that the content is personalized to them and as relevant as possible.
  • Branching content
    You can tailor your content based on information that your learner has provided you with, or ways they’ve previously interacted with your content (watch this video on how to use branching for personalized pathways).
  • Breaking it down
    Divide long content into smaller, manageable sections. Letting your learner know how long each part will take before they start will help set their expectations and maximize the chance they will complete the content. See an example time-planning report here.

3. Overload

Session time isn’t necessarily learning time. You could have lost your learners’ interest long before their session time ends; perhaps they felt disengaged or overloaded. Click, click, click. Try:

  • Minimizing content
    Omit anything from your content that doesn’t need to be there. The more you try to tell your learner, the higher the chance that they will remember the supporting information and forget your key takeaways.
  • Keeping it vital
    Don’t get fixated on including a wealth of background information if your learner doesn’t need to know it. Include only what is vital for your learner to be able to effectively understand and apply the learning. To help evaluate what you should and shouldn’t include, ask yourself whether the information will help your learner perform better in their role. If the answer is no, get rid of it!

ROI Implications Of Time To Complete eLearning

The way that cost and time of Instructional Design are estimated has a big impact on both learners and the ROI for businesses. Read more on the real cost of your eLearning.

Get better insight into session time and engagement: Free eBook - Get to grips with your Learning Analytics