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It’s April and that means spring has arrived. Teachers, professors, and training teams everywhere are watching as their students experience energy surges like no other time during the year; for many learners this spring fever translates into a high level of distraction.

Whether it’s spring fever, an overflowing email inbox, social media notifications on their smartphone, an in-person meeting, a pressing deadline, or a colleague who wants to gab about the weekend, your eLearners attention spans are pulled in dozens of directions.

When learners are highly distracted and presented with a myriad of choices, how do you grab their attention?

Incorporate microlearning into your design.

If a course takes an hour to complete, even the most focused learner will become distracted. But what if you have an hour’s worth of content? That’s where microlearning factors into eLearning design. Rather than cover all the content in one, stand-alone module, look for ways to divide the learning into smaller pieces that a learner can access over a period of time. If your design requires that learners are in one place for an hour or more, learners will tune out before they’ve finished the course intro.

Include activities and interactions.

Learners are less likely to stray away from the screen if there are activities and assessments to keep them interested in your course. In your eLearning design, capitalize on learners’ desire to complete a level, pass a test, or get to the end of the story. Use interactivity to entice them to finish what they’ve started rather than providing them with an excuse (boring content) to leave.

Stick to straightforward content.

If learners trust that you’re giving them the information they need—and not any “frivolous” content—they’re more likely to stay engaged. In addition to cutting out unnecessary, or nice-to-have content, use design techniques that will gain the trust and attention of your audience. There are some amazing design tools out there, but don’t overdo it. Designing with too many bells and whistles can detract from the content and pull learners’ attention spans in the wrong direction. Stick with formatting that makes sense and is easy to follow.

Truth is, we’re up against a lot of distractions in our everyday lives—at school, at work, and at home. (Hopefully you’ve made it to the end of this article, and have left that email, text, IM, or other distraction to handle later!) As an eLearning designer, use microlearning, interactivity, and straightforward content to keep learners engaged; when you do, it’s more likely you’ll keep their attention and help them reach the end of your course.

LizSheffieldBioLiz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.

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