Guest post by Sean Stoker.
Learning should be a pleasurable experience and eLearning is no exception. Even the most interesting subjects can seem unimpressive if handled in the wrong way. The human brain is not just some cup that you can pour facts into and hope everything stays in. An appropriate delivery method can make all the difference in the effectiveness of your eLearning course. Here are some quick ways to spruce up your most boring content:
1. Avoid Word Walls
There are few things less appealing to the eye than five large paragraphs crammed into a small browser window. Flashing a word-heavy slide of your course at the audience and expecting them to soak in the intricacies of everything you touched on therein is insane. Try trimming your text to key talking points. Not everything you say is gold that must be etched in the screen for your learners to read.
2. Incorporate Multimedia
The more parts of the brain that you stimulate with your courses, the easier it is for learners to form a memory of the material. People learn in a variety of different ways, so try to cater to your audience. Use images and text together with sound, video, and even interactive material like quizzes and games to get the kinesthetic learners on board.
3. So What?
Don’t just bombard people with a barrage of facts. Make the material relevant. Use stories and examples of the principles you’re introducing, and drive home why it’s important to know, rather than just expecting people to get it, no-questions-asked. Think about it. Would you rather be shown a full picture, or have puzzle pieces thrown in your face and be expected to put them together sight-unseen?
4. Humanize Your eLearning Course
Just because people are learning on the computer doesn’t mean they should be taught by a robot. Use a dynamic narrator who knows what they are doing. There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing a potentially interesting course be ruined by a narrator who couldn’t care less about the subject they are teaching. Try personalizing your course with cutout people images.
5. Use Humor
When appropriate, try spicing things up with a joke here and there. You don’t have to turn your course into a stand-up routine to make it work, you just have to disarm your audience and create a more conversational atmosphere. People are much more comfortable learning when they have some kind of rapport with the teacher, and a little humor can go a long way. Be careful, though, not to overdo it. If your jokes are too funny, it will overshadow what you are trying to teach. Also, make sure it’s a joke that’s relevant and that works in the situation you are addressing. If you’re just making jokes for the sake of making jokes, you risk coming off as corny and insincere, thus alienating your audience.
6. Use the Principles of Storytelling
Treat your courses the same way you would treat a piece of creative fiction. Don’t just check off the list of things you need to tell people about. Bring them on a journey with an actual story arc. Start with an introduction that is attention grabbing and informative, and tell a story along the way. Bring your learners into a world that has a problem or conflict, and over the course of the class, resolve the tension the problem creates using the principles you are teaching. This provides for a course that is not only informative but satisfying as well. This also works for multi-part courses. Try ending one course on a cliffhanger. Pose a question that will not be answered until the next installment. This will leave your learners curious about what’s coming next and even have them be excited to continue.