It’s often been said that in eLearning, you have 8 seconds to engage your learners or else they are moving on to the next thing. In the time that it took to read that last statement, I know that I have already lost some readers. What can we do to make sure that we hook our learners? What can we do to bring them in and keep them engaged?
This is a problem that faces teachers in all capacities, whether they are creating content for their “flipped classroom” or their classroom is a virtual one. Engaging learners is a problem we all face. Here are 5 tips that can help you to engage your learners while developing your eLearning assets.
- Lie to your audience! Yes, you read that correctly. It has been shown that people will engage more when they feel that they have been lied to. Think about all of the times you have been engaged (whether positively or negatively) with a spouse, friend, co-worker, or even students who you suspect are lying to you. It grabs your attention and makes you want to learn more about the situation. If you start lessons by challenging the thinking of your audience, then you are more likely to keep them engaged. They will want to learn more. They will want to prove you wrong. Is there any greater feeling to know that you have out-smarted your teacher because you were right and they were wrong?
- Play, play, play! Why do infants and toddlers grow so quickly intellectually? It’s because they get to play (all the time)! They try different things, they fail, they learn from the mistakes, and they grow. Then why treat your students any differently. When you create interactive content for your students, don’t just give them the content and walk away. Let them play and explore, better yet, provide them with feedback that helps them grow and learn. The best way to engage the Gen Y learners is not only providing them with the opportunities to fail, but also the opportunities to get up and try again.
- Limit New Information! You should not overload the brains of learners of any age. If they interact with new material all day long, then they are only going to retain the last piece of content they interacted with. Research indicates that when you introduce new content, you should ideally keep it under 9 minutes. After 9 minutes, the brain cannot gain any new knowledge. Overloading your learners with information can have a negative effect on their experience with your content (no matter how engaging it is).
- Variety is the spice of life! When you develop your content, make sure to vary the presentation. No one likes learning from the same type of slides or the same boring presentation. Bullet points are history. Don’t do that to your learners! Turn your content into an interactive flipbook or make it into a pyramid or circle diagram. Even when making the games for play time, change it up! Try a tic-tac-toe, or a spin the wheel, or even practice vocabulary with a hangman game. The key is to change the way learners can practice the skills so that they won’t get bored with the same thing all the time.
- Work backwards! I am a firm believer in beginning with the end in mind. Know what do you want your learners to be able to do when you have put all of your interactions together. Don’t start building interactions and try to make them fit in what you think will work best for the learners. Start with the objectives and decide which interactions may work best to get to that desired end result.
The key is to integrate everything that I have mentioned above into your development. Fail when you create content. How else will you know it’s good or not? Play with the different interactions. Learn what they can do for your learners and what their restrictions are. Knowing how they work can make it easier to know which ones to use to achieve your ultimate goal: student learning!
I use all these tips in my daily conversations with our curriculum team. It has helped North Carolina Virtual create high quality learning experiences for over 50,000 students this year. It is what will keep our learners coming back for more. How about you?
The Online Learning Consortium provides faculty development and training in a wide range of topics that will help you hone your online teaching skills. These OLC workshops will go a long way toward making your online courses shine:
- Exploring Digital Storytelling
- Creating Multimedia Introductions
- Creating an Interactive Syllabus
- Creating Effective Presentations
For a full list of OLC workshops click here.
By profession, Jeffrey Page is a Curriculum Coordinator. Jeffrey brings a wealth of knowledge of teaching both online and in the classroom, having taught in public education for 10+ years. By passion, he is an interactive learning enthusiast and sees technology as a driver for student learning. He is a member of the Interactive Learning Thought Leaders Panel on Raptivity. You may like to check out his profile and other eLearning resources here.