Have you ever reached the end of a page, only to realise that you have no idea what you’ve just read? Although you’re reading, your brain isn’t engaged and so nothing is really ‘sinking in.’ This can also occur with elearning, where although the learner is dutifully reading your content, they walk away with nothing committed to their long-term memory.
A learner who isn’t mentally stimulated by your elearning materials, won’t learn anything. In this post, we share our ten top tips for creating elearning content that won’t bore your learners.
- Don’t just re-use existing learning materials - you may have a whole library of existing materials that work perfectly in the classroom environment, but avoid the temptation to simply re-use these in your elearning. Those PowerPoint slides that work in person, with an instructor on hand to elaborate on each bullet point and liven things up with the occasional anecdote, are at best boring, and at worst meaningless within the elearning environment.
- Avoid jargon, lingo and stale writing - technical language, sales and marketing lingo, and a formal tone are all off-putting, and act as a barrier between the learner and the information you’re trying to impart. You should aim for a friendly, conversational tone, and make sure that your writing has some personality.
- Make it personal - learners find it easier to care about elearning when it feels personal. In addition to using examples, scenarios and case studies that the learner can relate to, directly addressing the learner as “you” can be helpful.
- Get the learner involved - always be on the lookout for ways to turn elearning from a passive reading experience, into something that the learner can participate in. You're probably already using quizzes and assessments, but you should also consider other ways to engage the learner, such as case studies, games, and interactive video content.
- Use humour - humour can make even the driest of subjects entertaining - just be wary of getting carried away and overshadowing the actual content! Everyone appreciates a little humour, but at the same time this isn't why the learner is taking your course.
- Tell stories - instead of just reciting information, weave it into a story. The story can be elaborate, such as a case study or scenario, or it could be a quick example that helps to illustrate your point. Video and audio content are particularly effective, as they put a voice and/or face to the story.
- Show, don’t tell - wherever possible, show the learner rather than tell them, as videos and diagrams are more entertaining, and tend to get their point across more succinctly than text. Of course, getting the learner to perform the action/task themselves (perhaps using a simulation) is even more effective than both telling and showing.
- Include visuals - relevant visual content can make tough topics easier to grasp, and breaking up text with infographics, diagrams, and other interesting visuals, makes for a more appealing page. However, while adding visuals is important.....
- Visuals aren’t the most important thing - including videos, images, and multi-coloured questions set against an animated background, doesn’t automatically make a course exciting. While these are all valuable tools, they’re more engaging when the learner is already motivated by the course’s content. Capture the learner's interest by presenting your content as valuable to them, and then use visual stimuli to keep them engaged.
- Always add variety - sometimes repetition is not only necessary but actually beneficial, for example recapping key facts. Even so, you should always strive for as much variety as possible. This doesn’t just mean using a mix of case studies, images, audio and question types; you should also be on the lookout for any patterns in how you use these elements. You may use a range of question types, but are all of your questions pitched at the same difficulty level? Do you use the same setting across your text-based case studies, videos and audio snippets? And do your multiple choice questions always have the same number of possible answers? Once the learner detects a pattern, your elearning quickly starts to feel predictable.
Are you looking for an elearning authoring tool that supports the full range of media and question types? Zembl can be used for free, with no time limits and no credit card information required. Try it for yourself!