June 26th, 2013 E-Learning

two2Elearning has often caused teachers and businesses a headache because it can be difficult to effectively motivate the learner to actually view the content. What often happens is the user will click “next” until they are at the end of the elearning course and then attempt the quiz until they pass.  This is especially true for yearly compliance training in businesses.  I am guilty of this myself.

Instructional designers are often trying to find ways to make learning more engaging without “annoying” the user. I am here to argue that it is actually quite okay to “annoy” the user if it means that the message is getting across.  For example, I remember one time I was taking a compliance training on a consulting project. I had many things to do that day so I remember clicking “next” until I reached the final quiz. Once there, I figured I would easily get through the questions and move on.  And hey, if I didn’t I could likely retake the quiz.

Well, to my surprise, there was a quiz at the end (10 questions to be exact), but the questions were well thought out, and very specific to the content I had just skipped over.  What’s more, they only allowed three attempts, and it had a question pool of who knows how many questions.  After trying to fake my way through the quiz one time, I decided I need to go back and review the content a little bit in order to effectively take the quiz.  All of this took me about an hour, so it wasn’t terribly long, but I realized at the end of it that I did actually learn something.

So what’s the takeaway here.  First, don’t make your quizzes too easy.  Every instructional designer is guilty of creating way too many True or False questions that have answers that are painfully obvious.  The quiz shouldn’t be a last thought item, it is the most important one!  Also, if you are allowing multiple attempts for the quiz, make sure you have a large question pool so that the user doesn’t get the same questions each time (and cheat his/her way through). If you have  a robust quizzing functionality available, this is quite easy to do.  Last, if at all possible, try to limit the number of attempts allowed for a quiz. If someone taking a quiz knows they only have a limited amount of times to pass and receive credit, they are more likely to return to and learn the content.

Not all learning can be engaging and intellectually stimulating. But with these two simple tricks, you can still get your message across.

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter


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Totally agree Justin. Your advice sounds like common sense and it’s not a case of common sense being not so common. I think it’s just laziness. Everyone knows that good quizzes are good learning, but they are very rare because they take effort to create and manage. At the end of the day, you get what you “pay” for.

I would add that it is absolutely crucial for quizzes to try to “correct” the user’s learning. This would entail showing the correct answer after the user makes a wrong choice.

Currently I am an undergrad studying business and it has boggled my mind that after student’s take their last final for their course, they are done with that topic. A grade is sent a few weeks later, but that’s it. This has bothered me because on certain questions of my tests that I struggled with, I never get to find out what the actual answer is and relearn what I got wrong. I think that having a way to correct someone’s learning is really valuable so they are being taught while being quizzed.

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