Tips for do-it-yourselfers: How to create deeply engaging eLearning content for your trainees
If you are already convinced digital learning is the right way to go, yet you are trying to instill this new type of learning in a small to medium sized organization, where training budgets are limited and the time employees can carve out for training is scarce, you have to be really inventive to encourage your trainees to find the time, stay focused, and get back to your training material on an ongoing basis.
Are you the one-man-show of training and learning in your organization? Are you responsible for everything training, from creating the content from scratch to delivering the training to assessing your trainees? You’d need to possess great communication skills to transmit knowledge successfully and motivate them to learn. eLearning courses require a great deal of writing for on-screen copy, audio scripts and video storyboards, learning objectives, assessment quizzes, and the like.
Whatever your course topic, you might find this post useful. We tried to summarize a number of techniques to help you create immersive, memorable training experiences.
I. Identify your target persona
If you are about to start crafting your training course material, your number one priority should be to fully understand who your learners are. The target audience analysis techniques that marketers employ to build a 360-degree view of their target personas come really handy here. The more you know about your learners, the better you can connect with them and fit the content directly to their needs.
A few questions that can help you better understand your learners:
- What’s the pain point that I’m trying to solve for my trainee with this course?
- Are there any other ways to solve the problem? Are they better suited to fit my trainee’s work schedule, the typical way of learning, lifestyle?
- What’s their age? Education? Work experience?
- What’s their job focus? What does their workday look like?
- How are they evaluated? Can I incentivize them somehow to take the course?
- What do they fear most (at work)? How can my course material help them alleviate those fears?
- What’s their take on personal growth and learning altogether? How can I motivate them to keep learning?
- What are their preferred info sources? (peers, blogs, training seminars, etc.)?
II. Create compelling content
- The importance of using correct grammar
Be sure to double-check your spelling. Introducing typos into your written collateral is not only unprofessional it invariably distracts your learners’ attention from the point you are trying to make. Proof-read everything before you finalize – there are great writing assistance tools like Grammarly which offer a basic plan for free. Whenever possible, avoid passive voice and focus on the subject performing the action as it’s more engaging and will keep your trainees interested all the time.
Keep your content concise and to the point. Sentences – short, rather than long and intricate. Try to introduce flow by connecting ideas from one slide to the next. Avoid industry jargon and abbreviations as some learners might not be fluent with those terms. Try to keep it as interactive as possible by breaking up long copy with questions.
Read the whole thing one last time and ask yourself:
- Is the content well-structured and interesting?
- Is it easy to understand?
- Do I achieve my goals with it?
Whatever the tone, be sure it is consistent throughout the course. As a rule of thumb, keep it simple and easy to follow especially when introducing new concepts and ideas. Since you’d have identified your learners’ knowledge level in advance thanks to the detailed target persona profile you’ve built, it’d be easy for you to adjust the content accordingly. Highlight terms that need additional explanation and make this information available as links to other pages or as tooltips. If your learners need the information, they can easily access it.
Provide consistent directions as to how to utilize the learning materials, how to browse and make use of the course options. This way the learner would always know what to expect and would never feel frustrated with finding their way around.
Last but not least, do not forget about headings/abstracts/captions/quotes consistency: pick a style and stick to it throughout the course.
- Formatting and structure
It’s essential to plan the structure of your eLearning course. List the topics that need to be covered and plan what should be covered in each part.
Proper formatting will help you highlight the important elements. When your trainees look at the screen, their eyes would slide over to the most attention-grabbing elements such as images, navigation, typography that stands out, color, etc.
Don’t go for lengthy content. Instead of drowning your trainees with detailed information, keep your writing succinct, clear, and engaging. Break up the content into easy to digest amounts. When editing your draft, cut out words or even whole sentences that are not necessary.
Try to base your content around a problem which would urge your trainees to actively seek a solution. This way your learning material will be question-based rather than answer-based, helping better engage learners and remember much of the content for a longer period.
2. User Experience
According to best practices, you should try to avoid locking all navigation/browsing options for your learners. They should be able to go through the learning material at their own pace, flipping through content they’re familiar with and going back to review parts they feel they need more time on. Content should be well-organized to allow users to easily find each part they are interested in.
Instead of building a lengthy course, try breaking up the learning material to a series of shorter, much more impactful micro learning bits. This will teach your trainees to pause and easily come back to the course whenever they can spare the time to continue with it.
By asking your trainees to make choices you keep them focused and alert all the time. Introducing eLearning scenarios is a great way to offer interactions. Branching scenarios, for example, keep trainees focused as they understand that their decisions can make a difference and also offer the opportunity to learn from mistakes.
Instead of guiding your audience through each step you’d like them to cover, encourage them to be proactive and explore. Let them have control over their eLearning experience and discover new information at their own pace. This way they become much more engaged and interested in the knowledge you are presenting.
Consider using games and some type of reward/points system to show trainees’ performance as this would not only challenge learners to do better but will also help them stay motivated by directly tying their success to company-wide recognition by peers and managers alike.
Ready to give Melon Learning a try? Our learning management system will help you get up and running in no time as it’s intuitive and easy to use. Not only does it help you offer engaging, interactive courses to your trainees, it will also shed light on how your learners are performing by allowing you to easily conduct regular assessments and quizzes. Start your free trial today!