Engaging Learners: 4 Tips To Hold Their Attention

Barry Kelly
Jun 12, 2014 10:43:00 AM

What makes for a great elearning course? A laser-like focus on the learner. Engaging learners is the best way to make sure your course has a real impact on them. With the rise of consumer learning publishers, brands, experts, and folks like you are looking for the best ways to deliver powerful learning experiences. Put your audience front and center with these four simple rules.


1. Show, Don’t Tell.
Remember those amazing Apple product launches? Like the legendary iPhone reveal? Or the iPad presentation? Steve Jobs didn’t just talk about these products; he actually showed what they could do in real-time. I’m pretty sure the former Apple CEO knew there’d be a learning curve. That people would need time to figure out all the cool things they could do with the new devices. But did Steve get bogged down in wordy step-by-step instructions for all those features? Nah. He knew people would be so excited and motivated that they’d experiment and learn on their own. The same goes for your consumer courses. Instead of boring your prospects with all the details, structure your courses so people can jump right in and teach themselves.


2. Make your content real!
Candy crush is fine when you need a mental pick-me-up. But when a chocolate craving strikes, wouldn’t you rather have the real thing? Real live adults — like the ones enrolling in your online courses — prefer content they can relate to. So, instead of imaginary scenarios and stock photos, look for ways to boost the real life quotient in your courses. How? Here’s one idea: Instead of spending money on stilted, professional voice-overs, find someone on your staff who has a great voice and have that person do the narration. Think about it. Your employees know your product inside and out, right? (And, if they don’t, why are they working for you?) DIY audio lets you tap into your in-house expertise and emphasize your brand’s unique personality. So, let your employees talk about your product in real-world language your prospects can understand.


3. Watch your language.
Social media sites like Twitter and Instagram have made tongue-in-cheek quips and commentary all the rage. To be sure, a smart and sassy title can bring traffic and maybe even boost sales. But, when it comes to effective elearning, it’s best to steer clear of this style of communication. Because what’s great for marketing can be downright annoying to a learner. Your focus is on engaging learners. Remember, people come to your course to learn, not to be wowed — or worse, confused or irritated — by clever titles. The next time you’re tempted to serve up some snazzy, punny text, ask yourself: Is this really necessary? Is this the best, clearest, most helpful way of educating my customers?


4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
You’ve probably heard that refrain before, mostly in the context of saving money, energy and natural resources. But this mantra applies just as well to developing online education courses. We know from cognitive psychology that people have only so much room in their brains for new information. To make learning to stick, you’ve got to make it memorable. The trick? Serve up only the most relevant “must-know” content. And then build in time for review and practice. Reusing and recycling content can help you, too. So get in the habit of thinking, How can I create more with less? How can reduce the time I spend creating totally new content by repurposing what I’ve already developed? Can you turn your webinar into an ebook? Re-work a quiz into an interactive FAQ? Follow these four rules and you’ll be well on your way to creating meaningful educational courses that your customers will love.

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