You always remember your first job and the new challenges it introduced to your life, one of them being the tedious hours spent on training. On the first day of work, many of us were forced to sit through a grainy orientation video rife with corny synthesizer music and poorly executed screen wipes. Or if you’re a little older, maybe you even had to endure a black-and-white instructional video with a condescending narrator interacting with a bewildered, fourth-wall-breaking actor, complete with titles like, “Ladder Safety and You: the Silent Killer.”
There’s one thing that we can all agree about when it comes to those types of training experiences. They. Were. Torture!
But with modern eLearning, we have an opportunity to make these courses much more dynamic in a way that renders them not only tolerable but stimulating and engaging. To make sure your eLearning courses don’t emulate the maddening boredom and stagnation that has plagued the bad instructional materials of the recent past, commit the following tips to memory.
Create Conversational Content
Too often, we treat our training materials like we did our fifth-grade essays: Say everything we’re about to talk about, talk about it, and then recap everything we just talked about. While this isn’t a bad format per se, when it’s overdone it gets very tedious. Loosen up a little and try to make things more conversational. Don’t just repeat what you said earlier. Reiterate it, put it into different words, or address it in a different way than you did the first time around. Try using our conversational scenario templates to speed up your development time.
Hook Them with Interesting Content
Try starting your course like an interesting news article. That is, start with an interesting fact, statistic, relevant story, or brief overview of the subject to set the hook.
Make it Responsive
In an age of ubiquitous computers, we assume that websites and applications will work on every device. Plain and simple, the same layout that looks great on a desktop monitor is not going to work quite as well when scaled down to a smartphone screen. Attention needs to be emphasized to make sure an eLearning course is robust enough to adjust to multiple screen sizes and page layouts while still maintaining functionality. This takes a little knowledge of HTML5 and CSS, but it’s so worth it in the end.
Previews and Reviews
Gauge the learner’s existing knowledge on the subject through a pretest and if time permits, quiz them again later with multiple-choice interactions. Elearning games and interactions are effective ways to “preview and review” your content within a course. People are more likely to remember things when they are accountable for what they have been taught.
Mark Twain gave this famous piece of advice in an essay published in 1895. What he meant by “eschew surplusage” was to avoid unnecessary info or pompous embellishments in your writing. A bit ironic given the way he chose to word it, but that was Twain’s style. Remember, keep your writing simple and precise.
In eLearning, we exemplify these words by only giving the learner the info they need, and nothing more. Break the facts and figures into manageable chunks that are easily digestible to avoid overwhelming the learner.
Are there any ideas you would like to add? Feel free to give us a comment below.