Table of contents
- Principle 1: Don’t forget the power of multimedia!
- Principle 2: Get a brain break with audio narration
- Principle 3: Storytelling and content personalization
- Principle 4: Bite-size learning material
- Principle 5: Assess little and often
- Principle 6: Allow for further exploration
Principle 1: Don’t forget the power of multimedia.
It can be easy to switch off when learning online. Our brains need to be stimulated by different types of content to stay motivated and focused. While written information often makes up a large part of online learning, adding multimedia can keep the learner engaged. Multimedia such as images, animations, and videos don’t just make information prettier; they can also be a learning tool in and of themselves! Keeping your multimedia additions related to the written content allows the two to work together as a team and, in turn, helps the learner better understand the subject .
- Add multimedia to your online learning course for learner motivation and engagement.
- Multimedia could include images, animations, videos, and much more!
- Multimedia should relate to the written content.
Principle 2: Get a brain break with audio narration
According to John Sweller, the father of cognitive load theory, cognitive overload can happen when our brains have too much stimulation. This hinders learning and needs to be avoided. When e-learning courses are too chaotic, cognitive overload steps in; think of a page with text, a video, images, and animations. It would be nearly impossible for our brains to focus on one thing simultaneously with all that distraction !
When e-learning courses are too chaotic, cognitive overload steps in
One way to avoid cognitive overload is to upload a narrated audio file to your course. Audio narration replaces on-screen text, so the learner listens to information rather than reads it. There are other advantages to using audio narration, for example, the ability to use storytelling more effectively and to draw attention to particularly important issues without the learner becoming distracted.
- Cognitive overload is an easy trap to fall into!
- It happens when our brains have too much stimulation, which can massively impact our learning ability.
- Audio narration offers a solution and can be advantageous to learning.
Principle 3: Storytelling and content personalization
Storytelling appeals to the child within us. Most of us have positive associations with it, and when used in e-learning courses, it can be an effective tool. Creating real-world scenarios relating to the content you are providing information about can help the learner contextualize the material within their own experiences.
Storytelling appeals to the child within us
Storytelling also helps the learner use problem-solving skills as they face a fictional challenge they have to overcome. This is a great way to learn effectively and have the information stick!
The second part of this principle is content personalization. Depending on the topic, it is important to use informal language that addresses the learner directly. You could also try including the learner’s name in the material for a personal touch. Doing this puts the learner at the center of the course material and empowers them to try their best because they feel personally invested. Content personalization is at the heart of a good story !
- Storytelling is effective in e-learning because it appeals to our inner child.
- It can also help the learner contextualize the information in their own life.
- Content personalization relates to storytelling because a good story makes you feel like you are there!
Principle 4: Bite-size learning material
Another principle of effective e-learning is to create bite-size and digestible material. For example, small paragraphs of information with lots of multimedia to break it up. As mentioned in principle three, learning material should be user-friendly and personalized wherever possible to empower the learner. Likewise, an e-learning course should slowly build on the new content, with plenty of quiz, assessment, and exam breaks. This allows learners to go at their own pace and avoid overwhelm!
- Create learning material in small chunks.
- Build content up slowly with plenty of quiz, assessment, and exam breaks.
- Empower the learner wherever possible!
Principle 5: Assess little and often
Instead of one big assessment at the end of an online course, it could be more engaging and useful to test after each bite-sized chunk of information. Assessments don’t have to be scary; they’re simply a way to keep track of a learner’s knowledge. It’s a good idea to vary testing material to include a mix of multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blanks, and true or false questions.
You could even make mini-games using the e-learning material. They bring a social aspect to learning, and reaching a score and ranking on a leaderboard creates friendly competition!
- Assessments come in all shapes and sizes.
- They don’t have to be scary; they can be as fun as mini-games.
Principle 6: Allow for further exploration
Take your e-learning material a step further by providing further reading links. This is at the heart of a good learning experience, which puts the learner at the center and empowers them to get curious! If reading links aren’t your style, make use of external videos and podcasts!
Another way to keep learners excited and energized is through case studies. These should focus on the latest discoveries in their field and are a great way to bring a real-world element to your e-learning material. Case studies can also challenge people invested in the subject matter.
- Add links to further information to stretch a curious learner.
- These don’t just have to be reading links but could also be videos and podcasts.
- Case studies add a real-world element to learning.
E-learning can be fun and engaging while still getting the most out of the learner. Following these six principles puts the learner in the driving seat, bringing about motivation and curiosity!
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