Learning on a Screen – Some Facts

mlearningpicBy its very nature, elearning requires learners to stare at a computer or mobile device screen. While many of us don’t think twice about this, there are studies out there that analyze the impact (and effectiveness) of the learner and content relationship.

For example, it has been shown that learners read only about 20% of what is visible on their screen. Many people are only willing to take 4.4 seconds longer for every 100 words.

That said, the younger the learner (ages 16-29 respectively) has indicated that they would rather read content on a screen than on paper. This makes sense though given that these individuals are more familiar with digital devices.

Still, non-linear reading is on the rise, which is in-turn leading to a decrease in attention. The average attention span online has been reported at about eight seconds.

And if your learning contains a lot of text which requires scrolling, you will miss a great learning opportunity as many readers only scroll about half of the page.

So What Does This Mean?

There are a variety of key points that can be learned from this kind of information, but to sum it all up: avoid text heavy training.

Many of us already know this, but perhaps for less empirical reasons (that is, we avoid text because it is seen as “boring”). Instead, when you develop your training you should think about general online reading habits.

Naturally, you will want to stay away from large scrolling amounts of text. One way to make this easier is to keep the content on screen relevant for only one to two main objectives.

Online culture has taught people to scan and interpret – quickly. Keeping this in mind as you create your elearning courses will help you frame, and ultimately deliver, the content so that it can be most effective.

Sure, some subjects need a lot more explanation. This is fine, you should certainly address all relevant information, but just make an effort to break-up the content logically so as to avoid cramming it into a handful of sections.

Going through this exercise will also force you to think about what is really important about the content, and then pull those points forward. Ultimately this can lead to your elearning being more effective.

Reference:
Shift ELearning

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

2 Comments
  1. True and true. Thank you Justin for this article.

    We in Sweetrush have been using the predominant multimedia techniques for the long time, and fully understand the advantages of non-text heavy training. Of course, it must be noted that the desire to use better techniques often runs into other necessities – trivial matters like budget and timeline. Text is cheaper to produce, easier to maintain, which is what clients want

    So the answer as always – use good balance, and keep the TARGET AUDIENCE in mind. After all, if your target audience is not likely to read the text, your text-heavy training is going to be useless anyway, regardless of how cheap it was,

  2. Lynda Deckard Ramos

    Thanks Justin. It is good to be reminded of the differences between the old dinosaurs (I include myslef in that group of people who grew up with BOOKS) and the new technophile students. I am slowly getting up to speed with how to present information to my students in a way they can digest easily and your blog certainly helps.

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