3 proven and simple strategies that add spark to elearning development

When we talk to clients about what they’re looking for in a custom e-learning course, the most common words we hear are “engaging” and “interactive.” While we agree these are great descriptors, they can mean different things to different people. You probably have an idea right now of what they mean to you. There are many strategies to engage learners. Some take a deep dive into adult learning theory and others are simple ways to transform an otherwise dull interaction into a more engaging one. Let’s face it, none of us want to click our way into an oblivion!

Pretty pictures and bulleted lists don't engage learners

Pretty pictures and bulleted lists don't engage learners

Pretty pictures and bulleted lists don't engage learners

How much of the e-learning you take consists of the dreaded PowerPoint-like slides? You listen to a narrator say the words you see on the screen; you click to the next slide to find a multiple-choice question regarding the list you just saw. Are you asleep yet?

It’s like the game Would You Rather? Would you rather wear socks made of fire ants or take a boring e-learning course? Hard choice, right?

Simple tools to spice up e-learning development

Simple tools to spice up e-learning development

Simple tools to spice up e-learning development

Before we jump to the tips, you may be asking if it’s worth it to spend time and energy to spice up your courses. I mean, your learners are grownups, right? No one promised them a fun compliance course! The answer is yes, it is worth it. Why? Retention rates. When we engage the adult learner, they are more likely to retain what they’ve learned.

The question to ask yourself is, do want them to complete the course? Or do you want them to change their behavior on the job? If it’s the latter, the effort is worth it.

Let’s explore some engaging tools.

  1. Sliders and Dials: Your Alternative to Click to Reveal Interactions
  2. Labeling and Sorting: Creative Ways to Test Application
  3. Audio Review: Use Characters in Your Decision-Making Activities

Sliders and Dials

Sliders and Dials

Slider and Dials are a great way to break out of the monotonous “Click each tab/button/image to learn more” rut.

  • Use a slider to describe items or terms. Let’s say you want to highlight important changes to legislation governing compliance. Create a timeline with a slider and text popups for those key dates.
  • Use a slider or dial to show progression. Perhaps you’re building a course on the plant life cycle. The learner can move a slider or dial to see images of the plant in various stages of growth.

You have the option of displaying each item or term in a pop-up window or in a separate layer or even slide with audio.

In the following example, each point on the slider displays in a new layer on the same slide with an image, text, and audio.

Example of using interactive slider displays in e-learning

In this example, the dial is a part of a calculation activity. Learners use the dial to calculate their total caloric intake for breakfast.

Calorie calculator example using dials with e-learning

Labeling and Sorting

Labeling and Sorting

Labeling and sorting are great alternatives to typical true or false, matching, and multiple-choice knowledge checks. They use imagery to encourage learning interaction. Here are several ways labeling and sorting could be used:

  • Use labeling to increase application. Imagine you’re teaching how to use a piece of equipment. Use labels to show or test on the parts of the equipment your learner will interact with.
  • Build a sorting activity to test knowledge. Let’s say your course is for salespeople to learn the features and benefits of a new product line. Use a sorting activity to match different features to specific products.

You have lots of options when building these types of activities. In this example, learners drag and drop a label to the appropriate part of a document. You could use this for documents, user interfaces, pieces of equipment, parts of a building, the possibilities are endless.

Here, you see a more engaging version of a simple matching activity. The learner drags the term to its definition. With just a little more work, you’ve created a more engaging way of testing knowledge.

fig of labelling use in e-learning
Fig. 2 Example of label use in e-learning

How about using labels to enhance a multiple-choice question? Here we labeled sections of a database and attached that image to a question. The learner is now seeing what they would see in real life.

fig 3 example of multiple choice with labels sorting for e-learning

Check out these simple ways to enhance a True/False question.

True or False question example of using label and sort
True or False question example of using label and sort

Audio Review

Audio Review

We love to use audio as a way to enhance activities in our custom e-learning development. This could include sound effects or music, which are great, but we find the use of different voices increases engagement.

  • Use character audio to let a character tell their own story in a case study.
  • Switch up narrators to break up the monotony of one voice.

 

In the following example, we take this a step further. The learner is assigned the role of hiring manager and is asked to decide on the best candidate for the role of IT Director. After listening to each interviewee, they select a candidate and receive immediate feedback. This places them directly into the role and gives them the power to make a key decision and its consequences.

Could they do this by reading excerpts from the interview? Sure, but the question is, will the experience feel more applicable and less theoretical if they actually hear the voices? We think, yes!

example audio review in e-learning
example audio review in e-learning

Note: You may see e-learning where learners are forced to simultaneously read and listen to audio. Studies show the combination of reading and hearing the same thing taxes our brains and can result in decreased retention.

Challenge your developers to use these strategies
in your next course

Challenge your developers to use these
strategies in your next course

Challenge your developers to use these strategies
in your next course

So, there you have it! These 3 proven strategies are ways to move your e-learning development from drab and dull to interactive and engaging. Don’t settle for click and read training when a little effort will get you so much more.

Are you interested in creating engaging,
custom e-learning courses?

The team at Artisan E-Learning can help

Are you interested in creating engaging,
custom e-learning courses?

The team at Artisan E-Learning can help

Are you interested in creating engaging,
custom e-learning courses?

The team at Artisan E-Learning
can help

Cheryl Powell

About Cheryl Powell

Starting out as a stand-up classroom Instructor/Corporate Trainer, Cheryl Powell worked her way up to online Professor for colleges and universities, to writing curricula and training for corporate and government projects as an expert Instructional Design and E-Learning Development Consultant. For well over two decades, Ms. Powell has offered her proven Instructional Design secrets to organizations who strived to take the quality of their classroom and/or online training to the next level.