The technological boom we’ve experienced over the last few decades has necessitated a lot of training for a lot of new inventions. The video revolution of the 80’s and 90’s, putting portable video cameras and cheap animations into the hands of the masses, contributed to a new era of training videos.
In days of yore, we were subjected to hour-long black-and-white presentations narrated in a Mid-Atlantic accent by some guy that seems overly concerned other people’s work habits. (“Tsk tsk! Johnny has forgotten to tuck in his shirt. Little does he know that this foible directly affects his coworkers and promotes slovenly insubordinate behavior in the workplace.”)
Over time, we graduated to bad synthesizer music accompanying neon letters that fly onto the screen, leaving trails of stars in their wake. All the while, a slew of non-actors did their mediocre-est to dramatize the enthralling activity of washing one’s hands, or if they got really adventurous, rapping about the proper burger-flipping technique.
Luckily we’ve moved past those days. We have, haven’t we? Boy, I sure hope we have. For those of you who aren’t sure what constitutes eLearning that is actually entertains and isn’t simultaneously gag-inducing and eye-rolling, read on to learn how.
Remember when you were a kid and some dorky adult tried to earn some good will by appealing to what they perceived to be the defining characteristic of your age group? When I was a kid in a quiet suburban neighborhood, this was often done through rap music. I can’t count the number of times a teacher thought they could charm me and my classmates with poorly executed Soulja Boy references, failing miserably in the process and making all of us feel embarrassed on their behalf.
If what you’re doing feels cheap and you’re out of your element, just don’t.
Find a Good Critic
Don’t work with a legion of yes-men! When your coworkers just tell you the course looks great out of politeness or laziness, you’re never going to make something other people are willing to sit through. Find someone who you trust to tell you the truth, and let them loose. You need to develop a thick skin and not get angry when someone rejects your eLearning babies. Quality should always be a priority of your personal feelings.
Know When to Hold Back
It’s a delicate balance creating a course that is both informative and enjoyable. Veer too far in either direction and you’ve either got a stilted bore of course or an entertaining romp that misses the point. When spicing things up for your learners, remember that a little can go a long way.
Take an Example from Your Dating Life
If you’re single and looking, you know that the dating scene takes effort. But there can be too much of a good thing. If you find yourself trying too hard, chances are, your prospective significant other is going to feel uncomfortable and run away as fast and as far as they can. The same goes for an eLearning course. You need to do a little work to keep your learners interested, but it’s a two-way street. If after your best effort, a small minority of your learners still aren’t interested, let it go. If a learner senses that you’re trying too hard to engage them, they’re going to feel put off, and ironically, disengage.
Many of the challenges we have discussed here can be batted away using eLearning interactions from our template library. What tricks do you use to make your eLearning more entertaining? How do you keep your learners engaged? Share with us in the comments!