If we have designed a visually appealing and compelling training program. Do you think such training program is enough to glue the learners to their seats? Let us accept the truth that, for a learner our training program is just another training program. He/she will do any or all of the following while taking the training –take calls, chat, check mail, talk to a colleague, wonder how long the training program is going to last, and so on. I am sure everybody has done all these in school/college. So, why should our learners be any different?
Learner’s real world is full of distractions. So, it is very important to grab the learner’s attention. The first event “Gain Attention” out of Gagne’s nine events still holds good in today’s learning environment.
I am a great fan of this “Gain attention” strategy. The first few seconds/minutes of a training program plays a crucial role in deciding its fate. The learner may just leave the training in the middle or click ‘Next’ continuously to complete it. If first impression is not positive, the great ID strategies may just fall on deaf ears.
Gain attention strategy plays an effective role in eLearning. It has the power to increase the motivational level of your learner.
- Arouses the learner’s curiosity.
- Sets an expectation in the learner’s mind: What’s in the training for me?/ What is the training all about.
- Makes the learner think about a particular concept: Really?/ No way!/ So true?
- Helps the learner grasp what is going to be covered in the training.
Basically, a gain attention strategy will build a curiosity in the learner’s mind to see what comes ahead. The learner is actually interested in taking the training program.
We have talked enough about the importance of “Gain Attention”. Now, the question arises “What qualifies as a gain attention strategy?”
The different types of ‘gain attention’ can include:
- Pretests: Holds good for learners who believe they know everything and there is nothing more to learn. The objective is to enable the learners to understand where they stand at the beginning of the training program.Example: Before staring the training, let us answer a few questions
- Challenge: This holds good for demotivated learners.
Example: You are a technical assistant. You have several customers who require your assistance. How many customers can you serve in a day?
- Problem solution approach: Builds the curiosity in the learner to solve the problem.
Example: You have been appointed a manager of a team whose performance has been very poor over the past few months. How will you motivate your team and ensure that each member gives his/her best.
- Did you know?: Share facts that will really inspire and surprise the learners.
- Comic strip: Use comic characters to talk about a particular topic/situation.
- Story/scenario: Make the learners understand with a scenario or through characters in the scenario.
Example: There’s a city where lot of school going children have been missing over the last two months. You being a part of the investigation department, have been assigned this case. You need to go to the city and solve the mystery.
There are several other innovative ways to design grab attention screens. If you have come across any, please feel free to share them.
The whole purpose of designing and developing an eLearning course is lost if the audience it is made for chooses to leave it midway. The audience here is the king. If the audience disapproves of an eLearning course, all the efforts and time spent on making the course go to waste. Goes without saying, the key stakeholders are held responsible for the failure of this course. The key stakeholders are SMEs, Instructional designers, multimedia developers, etc.
After putting in all their effort and time, they don’t expect their product (eLearning course) to fare poorly in the market. They expect to receive satisfactory, if not great, reviews from their audience. Disappointed at the reviews they have received, they wish to find out the reason behind this failure. On giving their course a closer look, they find out that the course has certain gaps, and they also understood that they didn’t take some important points into account.
The points that they missed are:
Not clear who the audience is: Before designing, one should be clear about who the audience is. Then the team should work on how to meet the course objective as per the audience.
There was a lack of flow in the course: While designing and developing a course, the entire learning and development team must strive to build a course that is orderly and structured, i.e. in a proper sequence. Although you develop your sequence during the outline phase, you may need to constantly revise it. Make sure you check for the mention of terms and concepts that were not previously defined. If this happens, you’ll need to go back and revise the outline, so learners are introduced to the basics before being moved to the more advanced concepts. Also, the learning course must be developed in a way such that the readers/viewers stay hooked or remain engaged throughout the length of the course.
The course was overloaded with unnecessary and irrelevant information: While developing an eLearning course, we feel that it should be rich in information. In a view to making the course information-rich, we tend to load the course with images, audio, and onscreen text. As a result, the learner finds it difficult to go through the course as there is too much information to process. The course should not be cluttered. We should include visual images, onscreen text, and audio only when it is necessary.
The sentences used were not simple and mostly passive forms of sentences were used: The listener understands the speaker better if they are being addressed directly in the speech. It is always better to say, “He said these words” instead of saying, “These words were said by him.”
It is best to use an active, rather than passive, sentence construction. With an active construction, the subject of the sentence performs an action. With a passive construction, the subject does not take direct action, so the sentence feels weak. So in order to connect better to the audience, the instructional designers/writers should always use active form while structuring content.