Are you at the point where you can barely finish a one-minute YouTube video? It feels like an eternity. If that otter is going to do something cool, he better get to it in the opening seconds. In fact, even the promise of the otter has to be intriguing enough for me to wait for another tab to open and sit through an ad.We don't need to say how important it is to grab and hold your learner’s attention. It should be a primary business goal for any new training your team is developing. Here are three questions to help guide you towards keeping learners interested in your e-learning.
1. DO WE THINK THIS FORMAT IS INTERESTING?
This is subjective, sure, but having your team ask this can be an easy guidepost. Look at your course designs, the media you are using, the visual treatments. Do they make you smile or study them a little longer? Open up a few tabs of your favorite websites, or websites you know are popular with your audience. Ask yourself if you are feeling a similarly inviting vibe in your design. Talk out loud with your team to articulate which components create the appealing effect the audience connects with. If your team of developers is feeling a kind of pride or excitement about how they are shaping the learning experience, it is often a good sign your audience will too.
2. CAN WE INCLUDE DETAILS THAT CELEBRATE THE AUDIENCE'S CULTURE?
People love to feel known. It might seem trivial, but finding opportunities within training courseware to demonstrate that you know the audience can have a big impact. Include references to the everyday challenges and achievements that define their role. When you're writing scenarios, find examples that get to the heart of what the audience deals with in real life.
Avoid crafting premises that are too perfect, rare, or convoluted just so they can rattle off specific learning points. Adult learners are very perceptive of old training tricks, so take the time to build in surprises that let them know you're tuned in to their culture. There is usually no need to cheerlead or exaggerate–audiences tend to ignore that too–but authentic details can resonate for a long time without people even realizing it. Visiting work sites and talking with exemplary performers is a great way to get material for your course.
3. CAN WE DEPLOY THIS IN A WAY THAT HONORS THEIR WORKFLOW?
Many great e-learning projects are foiled by poor deployment. It is not always easy to time the delivery of a course and make sure everyone knows about it, let alone find time to build excitement for it before it launches. As soon as your team is able during development, start dedicating resources to refine how your course is going to be deployed.
Is it going live during a chaotic season for your audience? Is it mandatory and you need completion before a certain date to ensure compliance? Is it getting launched with other training initiatives that might overwhelm people? Many of these factors might be out of your control, but it’s worth the effort to try aligning as much as possible to your advantage. Learners are more likely to embrace a new training course if they feel like it is given to them at a well-considered time that doesn’t disrupt their workflow.
What do these three suggestions have in common? Know your audience, and don't underestimate them. If you can accomplish this, you're at least halfway to a successful e-learning experience.