Learner engagement is a combination of cognitive and behavioral interactions. One of the greatest challenges designers must consider when creating short or lengthy courses is maintaining the interest of the learner. Building an immersive experience that is beautiful, informative, and intuitive will almost guarantee a successful learning experience. Here are some ways to ensure learners maintain a high level of interest your course.
Diversify how you present the information. While it is often expeditious and less expensive to use a consistent design scheme for your lesson, think of ways to integrate different modes (verbal and non-verbal) of content within one lesson. Modes are:
- Audio: Sound effects, narration, music
- Visual: Graphics and images
- Text: What the learner reads during the experience. (Unless the e-learning course is a book, keep the text to a minimum).
2. Emotional investment
Why should the learner care about the lesson? What kind of experience do you want them to have? A great way to get a learner to fully engage in a lesson is to tell a story. Walt Disney was not only a phenomenal animator and artist, he was an even better storyteller with the ability to connect to audiences of all ages and backgrounds, irrespective of the subject of the tale. Stories establish a cognitive framework for the learner to emotionally relate to and identify with the content that is being presented, thus increasing interest, motivation, and ultimately engagement.
3. Visual Appeal
As the popular adage goes, “You’ll never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” The learner’s first introduction to your e-learning content is visual. Be sure that your design scheme utilizes the latest trends in the industry. Look for design inspiration from other e-learning lessons and websites in general. There is a wealth of online resources available that can help you create a style guide for your own content. Here are some tips for optimizing the visuals for your course:
Fonts – Make sure the fonts are crisp and legible. Stay away from super stylized calligraphic fonts for the body copy. Keep it simple, clean and modern. As a good rule of thumb, it is easier to read sans-serif fonts on monitors and serif on printed materials.
Color scheme – Use a color scheme (monochromatic, analogous, complementary, etc) to keep a consistent look through the lesson.
Graphical assets – Only use vectorized or high-resolution images within the lesson. When increasing or decreasing the size of images, keep them to scale. Consistency is King.
4. Challenges and reward systems
Video games are addictive because every user interaction brings them closer to a reward or a behavioral correction. Incorporate challenges (cognitive or behavioral) within the lesson to motivate the learner to keep going forward. Rewards can be badges, points, status upgrades, etc.
5. End-user Design
Social media applications like Twitter and Instagram are very end-user oriented, which accounts for much of their popularity. Design your lesson from the perspective of the learner, not the instructor. Virtual learning experiences should be as personal as possible because they’re usually self-paced and are not controlled by another individual unless it’s designed to be ILT. Personalized experiences increase learner motivation and emotional investment. Poor UI/UX design leads to frustration and can create barriers to understanding, which can decrease motivation.
Incorporate multiple types of interactivity via dialoguing, navigation, search function, self-pacing, and manipulation (drag-and-drop, click events, vocal input, etc). Allow the learner to feel as if they are in control of the content that is being presented. All of these types of interactivity do not have to be included, but try to use at least 3.
Learner engagement is just one of the many challenges instructional and e-learning designers must tackle when developing an experience. For more information on how to optimize the learner experience for your course, contact Reva Digital.