Creating Engaging eLearning Content: 5 Tips for Authors

Creating Engaging eLearning Content: 5 Tips for Authors
February 1, 2013

tips for engaging eLearning contentWith a world of information just a mouse click away, the question for every eLearning author is, how do I keep viewers engaged and focused on the material in my presentation?  Here are a few tips for designing eLearning content that is both engaging and dynamic.

1. Keep it short:  We know that viewers only have a certain amount of time and patience to devote to any one task, so asking your audience to devote a large chunk of their time to a lengthy module most likely won’t result in Grade A retention of information.  By keeping your training modules short you are respecting the fact that your viewers lead busy lives, enticing them to set aside that mere 10 minutes to complete the training, and increasing the likelihood that they will remember more of your content.

It is probable that your training material cannot be effectively relayed in 10minutes – don’t fret! In these situations, break your training material into sections and create a series of training modules for the viewer to watch at their convenience. If your entire training is an hour in length, consider breaking it into four 15 minute modules, or six 10 minute modules. Just be sure that each module encompasses a complete section.

2. Prioritize the information: REALLY prioritize – if your viewer can only remember 3 points from your presentation, what should they be? Remember that you have limited time to relay your material, so anything else that you choose to include in your presentation should be absolutely necessary.  Of course, the amount of crucial information will vary with the type and purpose of the training, but it is important to separate the key points from the additional details. 

Supplementary information, such as spreadsheets and forms,    as well as examples are helpful when providing context for your key points, but they should not be included in the main training because that will cause an information overload for the viewer. Instead, take advantage of the attachments feature in Brainshark. Any document that you can upload to Brainshark (PowerPoint, PDF, Word document, Excel spreadsheet, video, etc) you can add as an attachment, allowing your viewers to download it from the Brainshark presentation.

Maybe you need to brief your team on a whitepaper, or train them on how to use a new software – your presentation will consist of those crucial key points, and the full whitepaper or “how to” document will be the attachment for your viewers to download and use for further reference.

3. Vary content types to include engaging and interactive elements: Adding a variety of content types will keep your viewers engaged and interested in your training module, and if they’re interested in the training; they will remember more information. There are a variety of ways to add dynamic and interactive elements to your training:

- Include background audio to open and close your presentation – it’s a great way to hook the viewer’s attention from the start

- Consider adding question slides -either as a quiz at the end, or scattered throughout the presentation as “check points”

- If your presentation is mostly PowerPoint, include PowerPoint animations to emphasize your key points and keep the presentation moving

- Consider incorporating a video slide to add variety to the style and pace of the presentation

- Add any additional resources as attachments for further reference

4. Make it mobile-ready: With business professionals becoming increasingly mobile, it’s important to accommodate the mobile learner when designing your training content.  Be certain to enable the presentation for mobile viewing by checking the “enable mobile devices” box, located on the presentation properties screen. This ensures that viewers can access your presentation anytime, anywhere, and on any device.  Additionally, with the new Brainshark Mobile Player viewers will enjoy full interactivity including the ability to answer questions, engage with polls and surveys, and download attachments.     

5. Include a closing slide:  The closing slide is an easy finishing touch for your training module. This is especially crucial if your training module ends on a quiz question or feedback slides, as it signals that their answer or comment has been recorded and the presentations is complete. Common closing slide examples are the “thank you”; the “you have now completed the module”; the “contact __ with any questions”; or the “continue to the next module”. However you choose to structure your closing slide; it assures the viewer that they have now reached the end of the module, and provides them with that wonderful cross-that-off-my-to-do-list sense of accomplishment.

Minimizing the length of your modules (10-15 minutes each), boiling down the information to just the necessities, spicing up the style with interactive elements, and including a slide to wrap-up each module will improve your viewers’ attention to the content and retention of information.  Hesitant to change your authoring style? Try incorporating the above elements in your next presentation and check your retention rates-you’ll be surprised by what you see.

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