Creating an engaging and interactive digital learning environment doesn’t have to be hard. With online learning and training becoming more and more popular, we’ve created a list of our top five ways to keep your students engaged online.
1. Incorporate High-Quality Video
If there’s one thing most people love in an online learning experience, it’s getting away from reading text and watching videos. Learners participating in the evaluation of our products consistently rate videos as a positive part of their experience. Videos reach visual learners and those who struggle with reading and they allow you to simplify complex content through the use of motion graphics. To keep students engaged and maximize learning retention we strongly recommend producing high-quality video, and audio, for your students.
If you don’t have the internal capacity to create high-quality videos, that’s okay! In many cases, as long as the concepts are well thought out and the audio is clear, learners will gain a lot from a simple video solution. Of course, sometimes you are trying to capture complex, real-world situations that may require close up and bird’s eye views to properly showcase the training concepts. In these cases, you can outsource your video ideas to a specialist to create content that you and your students will be happy with.
An example of a high-quality video developed to support training for the Royal Canadian Navy.
2. Create Interactions
Meaningful interactions such as tabs, quizzes, flip cards, or custom activities are all simple ways to increase learner engagement. Using these types of elements will allow your students to interact with their lesson via clicking or tapping their screen. Using interactive elements in your lesson will make the lesson more enjoyable and less monotonous, but that’s not all. Taking a learner from a passive to an active role in engaging beyond the excitement of “doing something”. Interactions allow learners control of their training which can increase their buy-in. Interactivity also allows learners to assess their level of understanding throughout their training, allowing them to take steps if they are struggling or to feel confident that your training is working. Some great examples of how you could incorporate these elements into your lesson include:
a) A quiz at the end of of a lesson or after a new topic
b) An interactive activity taking your students through a step-by-step process (think CPR training or steps to activate a machine)
c) Flip cards (with text or images on either side) for a low-stress self-test
d) Tabs or clickable icons on an image to show multiple components of a larger concept
To add meaningful interactions to your lessons, you need to make sure your selected eLearning software has these features built-in.
Another option is creating game-based eLearning. When used properly, game-based eLearning can be an incredibly powerful tool for boosting engagement and retention. While this option is more complex than, say, creating tabs in a lesson, the engagement among students is much higher because they get simulated real-world experience. This is important when looking at training where practice is important but impractical in the real world for financial or safety reasons. Work with a technology-savvy learning designer to determine the optimal levels of immersion and interaction for your training needs.
3. Incorporate Captivating Images
Most peoples’ minds create mental images as they interpret the knowledge they’re presented with. If you were to read the word “ship”, you likely don’t think of the individual letters or the word itself; you most likely picture the image of a ship. By adding pictures to your lessons, you can help your students build an accurate image in their heads of what they are learning about. This is especially useful when you are explaining how a piece of machinery works, what certain elements of building, ship, or vehicle look like, or anything that you are teaching that is tangible in the real world. It is also valuable when you want learners to imagine themselves in a real-world situation. This can promote positive attitudes like excitement, caution or empathy, for example when dealing with real people or environments. Adding images to your lessons will also boost your students’ engagement levels because in many cases, reading an extensive amount of text will reduce attention span, whereas breaking up the text with images will give your students a much-needed break to increase engagement.
Captivating 3D models designed to optimize training engagement.
4. Make Content Manageable
Sometimes text-heavy courses are unavoidable. When this is the case, we recommend keeping the amount of text per page to a minimum and if appropriate, add images, activities, or videos to help break up a concept that is too wordy. This will keep learners focused on the lesson by keeping the content from getting overly monotonous. To achieve this goal you can implement the following to your online training:
- Design your course down in smaller chunks or modules.
- Break down one large 45-minute course into more manageable pieces. E.g. have four 10-minute lessons and a 5-minute quiz at the end.
- Provide learners with the ability to go back to any section to refresh knowledge
- Ensure content is easy to access
5. Keep Your Language Accessible
With online learning, your reach could be global, so be sure to take into account your audience. Learners of various ages, education levels, and languages may be engaging with your course. A good rule of thumb is to keep the written content at about a grade 6 reading level. This way it is accessible for most adult learners to understand. If you know your audience and their prior knowledge, language may change and include subject-specific vocabulary, but your learners will still appreciate content that is as succinct and straightforward as possible. Leave out anything that does not assist learners in achieving the defined learning objectives. Remember that there is a difference between need-to-know and nice-to-know. To further empower your learners, consider adding narration of written content and/or test your course with a screen reader to ensure learners who struggle with reading have equal access to your content.
If you keep these tips in mind when building out your digital learning environments and online courseware, it will go a long way in creating content that is engaging and supports both achievements of program goals and learning retention. If you want to stay in the loop of what RaceRocks has to offer in terms of digital learning experiences and the kinds of materials we are producing to Enable Teams and Empower Decisions then be sure to follow us on Instagram @Racerocks3d or on LinkedIn @RaceRocks3d.