Any instructional designer will tell you that they are always looking for ways to make their elearning more effective. There is a lot of theory out there regarding the best ways to accomplish this, often times making the entire process seem rather complicated.
Truth is, creating effective elearning can all be traced back to one thing: learner engagement. More specifically, this means enticing the learner to interact with the content (where applicable), and also making sure that you don’t lose the learner because of poor design techniques.
One way you can easily cater to learner engagement is to ensure that your course is both relevant and consistent. All of the content, headings, subheadings, pictures, fonts, and terminology should be used in a consistent manner through the entire course. The second you start to mess this up is the moment the learner becomes distracted.
It is also important to stay organized. Present the material in an structured format (doing something like this may help), and try to resist the temptation of information overload. More often than not, elearning developers include too many complex charts and graphics with not enough supporting information. This can easily become overwhelming for the learner.
Speaking of which, if you do decide to use charts and graphs (or images), make sure to keep them interesting. Black and white charts with various Clipart images aren’t going to do any favors with regards to attention span. Understand your audience and what can hold their attention, then build this into your course.
Static graphs and images aren’t necessarily enough either. If possible, add interactions, hot-spots, simulations, and videos to sections of your course where it would benefit the learner, and break up the monotony.
Last, one great tip that I came across early in my career was the importance of relevancy over time. People, ideas, and content are always evolving – so should the elearning course. Even if one item is out of date, it can negatively impact your entire course as the learner will begin to question the accuracy of all the content.
There are just a few tips that you can use to keep your learners engaged as they take your course. Don’t be afraid to incorporate your own techniques, and always make sure that the courses are optimized for the target audience.