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Part of our role in designing and developing outstanding eLearning is to keep our audience interested and engaged throughout the learning process. It’s important to always remember your designed experience competes for learners’ attention with a host of distractions—emails, phone calls, real people, stress and deadlines, etc. This is why I like to draw upon life passions to better understand and deliver eLearning engagement.

As a professional designer, it would benefit you to be able to comprehend, sense, and fully describe “engagement .” One trick I use to keep this concept fresh in my mind is to think of life experiences that engage me, determine why they engage me, then transpose those basic concepts of engagement into eLearning that I design.

Keep in mind, what engages your audience may differ vastly from what engages you—that entails an entirely separate discussion on audience analysis. The key of this post is to distill the key drivers of engagement from your own life experiences, then apply those drivers in creating an experience that works for your learners.

What engages you? Athletics, cooking, music, politics, movies, beaches, hanging out with friends? What matters is that you find something that absorbs your attention, such that you focus less on other life responsibilities and challenges. Once you know what truly engages you, apply these five elements into your eLearning design:

  • Characters Engaging experiences often involve memorable characters, real or fictional, that capture our attention: Darth Vader, Oprah Winfrey, Bart Simpson, etc.
  • Environment – Remember vivid landscapes, sounds, the colors and placement of objects in a room, a particular picture or icon. Think Park Place on a Monopoly board, the stage of a Rolling Stones concert, or the Grand Canyon.
  • Activities A dynamic environment involves movement that you can view, or even better, interact with. A comedic juggler on stage performing feats of skill. Then the juggler throws you a pin and asks you to throw it back, for example.
  • Challenges – Ever put on a harness and scaled a wall? The focus is intense – nothing else matters other than finding that next handhold. Climbers can recount each step and hold in a difficult ascent.
  • Emotion – I’m amazed at how well baseball fans can detail a specific play from the distant past. The score of the game, who was on each base, and how the play was executed. I shared my puzzlement with a friend and fan who explained the fans’ personal investment in the game creates an emotional experience that makes every detail connect as part of a vivid memory. Emotion creates vivid memory.

We incorporate these five principles as we create custom eLearning development for interested clients, overlaying our core interests and passions into key learning experiences. We have also developed a huge template library that facilitate engaging characters, environments, activities, challenges, and scenarios to help other designers improve and accelerate their eLearning design.

Try using these five elements yourself. What life passions give you ideas for engagement that you can apply to your eLearning?

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