If you have had issues in engaging your learners to complete certain elearning programs, we’d just like to share how we have managed to help several industry leaders improve their programs.
If you implement these 9 key things, you should be able to improve your engagement from the average of 15% to about 40% (that’s about a 150% increase!) 1, 2, 3.
In today’s workplace, there simply is no room for hour-long elearning programs that force you to sit through an entire lecture-like video. That’s literally the same old one-way teaching pedagogy crammed online. It is not effective when it was conducted in a workshop setting, neither will it be effective just because it’s now online with a few clicks or taps here and there.
Regardless of what LMS you use, here’s what we found works. We’ve compiled a list of pointers you can and should use immediately to evaluate your learning material. It’s split into 3 sections: the headline to draw in learners, the structure to facilitate learning, and the content itself.
At the end, we provide a downloadable/printable version you can keep reusing for free for all your material. Here we go:
1. Your title of the training should be crystal clear and purposeful
Most elearning systems rely on the initiative of learners to sign up and learn. If learners do not get drawn in by the titles or description of the learning program, they will just ignore it.
There are many guides out there that talk about writing better headlines and titles for articles spread on the Internet. You may have seen many of these “10 things” lists that get shared like the flu. Let’s take a look at what makes them tick, and how to use them for your learning program.
Specificity and purposefulness cuts through all the noise
Headlines which have higher specificity — using numbers and addressing readers4, perform better than other headlines. Instead of saying “A learning program for inbound customer service calls”, say “12 ways you can make someone smile over the phone”, or “5 phone call tips to make even the shyest operators sound confident”.
Tell them what’s in it for them
Make it very clear what’s the objective and purpose of the program. What are the outcomes that learners can envision if they complete the course?
In the title, or in the summary of the learning program, do this: Quote statistics. Even better, quote an example within your organization that are highly relevant, for example if you want to get your sales team to attend a workshop, describe in a byline that “Our department’s top sales leader increased his sales closing rate to 50% using these tips”.
2. Split your content down into bite-sized chunks
Science has consistently showed that people are not very good at paying attention to things for a long time. The average attentional span of most people is only 10 minutes5.
However many elearning programs go up to an hour. It wastes the time of the learner, and creates a high barrier of entry for future learning attempts. Thus, simply restructure your large lessons into bite-sized lessons of between 5 to 15 minutes.
Lower the psychological barrier
The psychological barrier that learners feel when they look at a 2-hour course is immense compared to just a 10 minute session. Most people at work don’t have the luxury of an hour or two to read material or watch videos. What they need is immediate action-based tips to help them at work.
If they want more substantial materials, you can always add it as an extra which is optional. Not all learners will find it useful, and certainly they won’t appreciate if you force all of them to sit through tedious material.
Let your learners feel rewarded each step of the way
You may have heard that splitting goals into smaller steps make them easier to achieve. Similarly, making your lessons a lot smaller creates a lot more opportunities for your learners to feel rewarded that they have actually learnt something.
Splitting up your large lesson into smaller ones also lets you clarify your lesson objectives. In a 5 to 10 minute lesson, it will be immediately obvious to learners if there are extra training “fluff” that serves no purpose.
Also, if you have assessments at the end of your lessons, they can be changed to become more engaging and meaningful, yet short and sweet. We’ll leave the details of that for our next article ☺
Ties in with specific headlines
Splitting your content also ties in really well in creating your attractive headline. If you split your 2 hour training program on say Inbound Phone Etiquette to twelve 10 minute sessions, you can easily create a headline that says “12 lessons…” or “12 tips…”.
Easily transition to mobile learning Smaller lessons also make it consumable on the go. If you have a mobile learning system like Coursepad, you can easily just upload existing bite-sized content that your learners can access anywhere and complete in 10 minutes. No longer will your learners feel like elearning programs as a drudgery, but instead little tips that help them with their day to day work.
3. Use examples and stories to supplement your messages
In terms of the actual training content, nothing helps learners better than stories. Our brains are wired in such a way that resonates, synchronizes well with other people when they are telling a story6.
Storytelling makes lessons and details relatable
For learners, instead of boring slides or reading material, learning programs that are presented in a story-like manner can help these lessons become more relatable and easy to recall. When storytellers tell stories, these messages carry with them a lot more emotion and meaning, which listeners (learners) will try and immediately relate with personal experiences.
When we hear someone else tell a story about their colleagues, immediately we think about our colleagues, and we’re likelier to share about our experiences as well. This naturally goes on day to day as the “watercooler chat” or gossip around the office; in our daily lives we tell stories all the time as its a natural way to communicate. We seem to be able to easily remember the “juicy details”, without having to think and process it over and over again…
It also naturally engages people to want to know what’s happening next. It’s like a TV drama series — you want to know what happens next automatically, because its all part of a story.
How do we “convert” your lessons into stories then? Breaking it down, this is what we found in terms of making your lessons more story-like.
- Use an example or case study that is familiar
Weave a backstory into your whole lesson. In our example of customer service calls, we can mention that our colleague Tim has always been a timid guy, and he absolutely hates picking the phone for fear of getting yelled at. Immediately learners can identify somewhat with such a person.
- Use emotional and rich description of things
When we tell stories, it might be filled with slightly exaggerated information that provide context and humor. Mix in little trivia like “Tim had to repeat ‘yeah’ almost 25 times… his co-workers nodding along every time he said ‘yeah’”.
- Use multimedia content to relate better7
Make short video, or even record audio instead of having your learners read the text. More than just accessibility, we bond and relate better when it is another person talking to us rather than mere reading. It won’t replace face-to-face interaction, but at least it’s a lot better and more engaging than just a wall of text.
Wishing you well,
Chia Wei & Team Coursepad
1 58% of learners are more likely to use get into learning if lessons are split up into smaller, shorter ones — http://www.softwareadvice.com/hr/industryview/lms-features-report-2014/
2 92% of viewers prefer stories to plain messages — https://www.onespot.com/blog/infographic-the-science-of-storytelling/
3 57% of readers are likely to engage in material that has a title using specific numbers and are addressing them — http://blog.bufferapp.com/headline-strategies-psychology
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