E-learning promises a learning experience like no other: fun, engaging, and unforgettable—but only if much effort is made to make it interesting.
Much like classroom learning, e-learning can also fall into the pitfall of a boring experience. But due to its flexible and interactive features, it is less likely to be dull. Then again, it could be uninteresting if not executed properly.
If you’re a professor, teacher, instructor, or a developer of an e-learning management system, here are simple yet sure-fire ways to beat boring e-learning and make students look forward to more:
The human brain processes visual information over 60,000 quicker than words. Did you know that 90% of the information the brain takes in is visual? Almost half of the brain’s nerve connections come from the retina.
Did you also know that visual aids enhance learning by up to 400%? For most students, how easy is it to watch a film than read a book? Why are infographics much easier to understand?
Photos, infographics, diagrams, and charts make content less wordy and monotonous. But it’s near-impossible to avoid words completely.
Instead of lengthy paragraphs, use bullet points and format the words or phrases you want to put emphasis on. Write catchy headings and make sure your formatting is consistent all throughout.
Powerful visuals hit the right emotions. They tug at the heartstrings. They inspire, they remind, they motivate. You’ll know your strategy is effective if the learners associate visual content with their own experiences.
Make it user-friendly and easy-to-read.
We’ve emphasized how the right visuals can make a big difference to any e-learning course.
As much as possible, make it user-friendly and tailor your content according to their strengths. Consider the profile of your would-be users. What age group do they belong? How accepting are they of e-learning? Have they done e-learning before? Do they have conditions or needs that warrant special attention?
Whatever the demographics and preferences, users appreciate an easy-to-use system. As much as possible, avoid bringing classroom training strategies to e-learning. Using a Powerpoint presentation may seem like a more interesting substitute for a boring, monotonous lecture, but it may also be a dull choice if used alone.
Wismar University, one of Germany’s biggest and oldest public universities, received awards for their international distance learning courses in the areas of technology, design, and economy. Their ‘blended’ option requires their students to physically attend only three weekends every semester. Convenience is what makes them a top choice for international students.
Avoid too much formality.
Too much formality be very boring.
Being formal doesn’t necessarily equate with being professional. You can present content in a conversational yet respectful manner. The key is to catch your users’ attention and make them stay interested until the very end.
Humor can also add a fun element to e-learning. A little bit of humor makes a huge difference and we all love a good laugh every now and then. You can inject humor through comical photos, funny narratives, or entertaining animated videos; basically anything that breaks the ice. But at the end it is very important to stay professional.
Even courses that may seem serious, such as Basic Life Support, may benefit from a little humor. You can flash witty tips every now and then, like: ‘Did you know that the human brain can only survive for up to 6 minutes without oxygen? Now is the best time to learn CPR and save lives!’
Make good use of technology.
Make really good use of it to take e-learning to the next level.
Take advantage of the latest innovations. When your students know you’re using a novel approach to e-learning, they will love to try it first-hand.
Adopt a learning management system that allows interactive learning. For instance, learners can design their personal avatars, engage in gamification, or participate in simulation training.
Walmart, the American retail giant, uses virtual reality (VR) to train their employees. What better way to present potential problems than to actually bring the problem to the trainees? It gives them an almost-real feel of the situation, which allows them to think and act. Immediate feedback allows the company to evaluate the trainees’ performance.
Aim for active e-learning.
Learning doesn’t stop at reading and listening.
Even with the most interesting e-learning course, one challenge is keeping the users actively learning all throughout.
So how exactly do you keep them motivated? They have to apply higher-order thinking skills such as analysis, evaluation, and synthesis. Critical thinking and decision-making enable them to really think out of the box and truly comprehend what they’re taking in from the course.
Best practices for active e-learning include debates, brainstorming, and problem-based learning. These seem like heavy, gruelling work, but utilizing avatars, animations, and other interactive elements make them quite engaging. This kind of online peer-to-peer interaction makes for an enjoyable challenge for the users.
If you want to make your e-learning course both interesting and substantial, you need to apply any or a combination of these best practices to encourage active learning.
Include case studies.
E-learning content should be fact-based and genuine.
Case study presentation is a compelling approach to teaching—but only when delivered properly. After all, who wants to read a lengthy case study bombarded with figures and jargon your users can even understand at the first read?
This is precisely why we turn to e-learning—we want users to actively learn, and not just listen for compliance’s sake. E-learning should be a positive experience for both the expert and the user.
Take out the pertinent points in the case study, and present them in a visual aid such as an infographic, photo, or animation. You can also use the facts to share a narrative, tell a relevant story, or present a short video. As for the full case study, you can share or upload it as a supplement material.
This ultimately allows the users to connect the content of your e-learning course to actual situations.