The Shock Factor: 6 Reasons To Surprise Corporate Learners In Online Training

The Shock Factor: 6 Reasons To Surprise Corporate Learners In Online Training
Summary: Shock is often given a negative connotation, but being caught off guard might actually be a good thing when it comes to cognitive processes. In this article, I'll share the 6 top reasons to use the element of surprise in your online training course in order to make it even more effective.

The Shock Factor: Why Surprising Your Corporate Learners Makes Online Training More Effective?

Most of us go about our day following a strict routine, even if we aren't completely aware of it. We have certain expectations, such as what will occur when we arrive at the office or how long it will take to commute home in the evening. These are all "givens" in life, the mundane things that provide a sense of normalcy. But what if something doesn't go according to plan? How does our brain react when surprise disrupts the routine? More specifically, what happens when our corporate learners encounter an online training course that catches them unaware? Here are the 6 top reasons to use the shock factor in online training courses.

  1. Surprises are attention-grabbing.
    Surprises are attention-grabbing because there is a chemical response that takes place when we experience something new or unexpected. Dopamine production is triggered by our brains, which is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for attention, pleasure, memory, and learning. When we experience surprise or shock, our minds automatically take notice of the stimuli and remember it. For example, a provoking image sticks with us much longer than a picture that blends into the background. It can be likened to a bookmark. The trigger, which is an image in this case, is filed away into our memory banks because it is linked to a surprising event. There is a word of warning, however. It's important to limit the number of shocks in your online training course design, as corporate learners may grow immune after a while. For instance, the surprises can become the new "normal" for the brain and corporate learners will simply grow accustomed to them.
  2. Improves knowledge retention.
    Our brains are hardwired to review information that is offered to us and then detect new ideas or concepts. When new knowledge is present our mental synapses are triggered, which causes stimulation and excitement. If it's information that we have already seen, or if it's dry and dull, our synapses will remain dormant. As a result, surprising online training content leads to learning and knowledge retention, while boring online training content has no effect whatsoever. In fact, it may just cause the corporate learner to disengage and click away from the online training course.
  3. Influences corporate learners' performance behaviors.
    Surprise can break down boundaries that stand in the way of change. For example, a customer might be so surprised by a new and inventive product that they click the "Buy" button before they've even done more research. In many respects, the shock factor influences our behaviors and decisions in completely unexpected ways. One of its most significant benefits in eLearning is its ability to influence performance behaviors. Surprise is a strong emotion that drastically alters the online training experience. It leads to chemical and hormonal fluctuations in our minds, thereby disrupting our cognitive balance. Simply put, it prompts corporate learners to challenge their current assumptions and improve their work habits without even knowing it.
  4. Increases engagement and corporate learner interest.
    The big question that everyone has when they login to an online training course is "what's in it for me?" The human mind is always trying to find knowledge to soak up like a sponge, which is primarily why we are such curious beings. However, new information and skills is what we're really after. Knowledge that we've already examined or repetition prompts our brain to lose interest. For example, if we are participating in an online training course that only contains text-based content, minimal images, and absolutely no interactive materials, then we are going to disconnect. On the other hand, if our brains suddenly encounter an immersive online training simulation or an emotionally-compelling story, we will immediately take interest.
  5. Creates an online training addiction.
    To illustrate this point, consider the popularity of horror films and mystery novels. We know that we are going to be shocked, surprised, and possibly scared out of our wits, but we keep watching and reading. This is because we crave the element of surprise. So, it's only natural that online training experiences which feature unexpected elements are going to become addictive. Corporate learners will be on constant lookout for the next surprise, the next online activity, story, or image that catches them off guard, which fuels them to progress through the online training course. For example, even if you just add one or two "shock factor" components to your online training course, it will be enough to keep them guessing.
  6. Primes corporate learners for the next online training experience.
    Once you introduce the element of uncertainty it never really goes away. Corporate learners who have participated in your online training courses before are going to know that there may be a surprise around every corner, and they don't know where or when it will occur. Reluctant or introverted corporate learners may suddenly be interested in your online training program, thanks to the fact that it piques their curiosity and puts them on edge, in a good way, of course. You might even transform them into lifelong online learners who try to find surprising or shocking bits of knowledge on their own. To encourage them to do so you can create a supplemental resource database that they can use to access compelling eLearning articles and videos.

The basic principle underlying the shock factor in online training is that the human brain craves adventure and excitement. We may like to create a stable routine for ourselves, but we still need a healthy dose of the unexpected from time to time. So, surprise your corporate learners and offer them an online training experience that is anything but humdrum.

Want to learn more about emotionally-centered online training development? Read the article 5 Tips To Use The Plutchik’s Wheel Of Emotions In eLearning to learn how to use the Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions to create emotionally-centered online training courses.