Get them engaged: online learning essentials for the trainer

Inspiring students while maintaining interest and momentum to get them through dry, difficult, or more technical content is an art. 

Here’s the deal, no matter what you have to teach, there will be more and less boring parts of the business. Not all learning is flashy and inherently fun. In fact, a good bit of teaching successfully is about precision and aiding concentration. So how do you maintain the momentum and engagement when the content gets dry?

Make it fun! The brain loves fun. When your brain is entertained it will retain what is learning. Clever jokes or riddles, gifs, and memes are all tools to engage the brain’s fun side. If you make it fun the brain will get into the game. So find a way to gamify the tough stuff. Learning will be about winning and the dry information will have a more engaging delivery! The material may not be flashy but the presentation can be. 

A few, quick examples...

1. Humor

Use a joke to break up a section about intense chemical risks:
“Helium walks into a bar and asks for a drink. The bartender says, ‘Sorry, we don't serve noble gases here.’ Helium doesn't react.”

2. Small Visual Aides

Use small visual tools to break up text. Humor -- yes, even memes -- are another way to keep the brain engaged. Sometimes just being a little silly will bring an entertained brain back into focus.

Use Images with Humor

A little humor goes a long way.

3. Birds-eye View

Another way to beat detail fatigue is to take a birds-eye view on the topic. Make a diagram of how everything is linked and zoom out. Find a way to make it clear why and how that particular piece of information is important to the overall lesson — establish the broader context. Then, what part does that detail play? A change of perspective for the big-picture perspective from time to time can make the importance of each of the granular details clear. What are the consequences of not understanding this information or the rewards of knowing this information? Why does the student want to up their game and pay more attention? Tell them. Make it something that they can relate to. Again, a birds-eye view often explains why we take the path we do to a destination. If your students can understand why they need to know something, they are more likely to remember it and stay engaged.

4. Break Up the Big

Break up the big segments of information into smaller points of focus. Rather than running the whole marathon in one non-stop flow right out of the gate, break it up into small landmark accomplishments. If your students can get this step-down, they can move on to the next step. Each segment is a mini goal and mini success. 

5. Queues with Repititon

Don’t only break up the information. Create little repeatable segments and visual cues. For factoids or little call-outs.

6. Get visual! 

Some things are just better in a visual format. Isn’t it easier to digest a pie chart than to list percentages? That is what I am talking about! Not only does it add variety, but for some things, it is just a simpler, more effective way to explain.

7. Celebrate the victories! 

Keeping the focus on what was accomplished rather than what is yet to be accomplished is a great way to keep people motivated. Celebrate the mini successes as well as the big successes! Even if they’ve fallen behind their own schedules, giving them support and encouragement by celebrating what they have already accomplished is more likely to prevent them from giving up. Learn more about LearningCart’s built-in gamification mechanics, and really harness the power of rewards.

8. Buddy up! 

Pairs and teams are a great way to make learning a social experience which is both more fun and motivating. Consider establishing cohorts for learning. Social accountability is a great way to keep people engaged and to help each other learn when they might otherwise become disengaged. Having an e-buddy or team environment can really make a difference.

We all, at one time or another, have experienced an amazing teacher who knew how to keep us focused and engaged through material that was challenging. Use these tips and tools to be that teacher for someone else! As always, if you have questions or need support, please let us know.

Tags: UX, Content Strategy, Engagement, Learning Fun
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