The content is great, but our learners aren’t engaged.

We’ve all been part of the “What are you watching on Netflix?” discussion at some point, and we’ve heard, “You’ve got to watch [insert series here], it’s slow in the first season, but it really picks up”.

Maybe you add it to your “List”, but chances are it’ll sit there, getting further and further down the watch order. The show might be critically acclaimed and well received by the masses, but it still sits “in the list”.

This scenario happens globally and with individuals working across every industry. People don’t have enough time for everything. They have to prioritise.

This prioritisation of time happens in an individuals home life, when they’re setting up for an evening of relaxation. It’s therefore understandable to see why, when it comes to learning and understanding, if the content is not engaging and doesn’t quickly provide value, they’ll be a drop off.

When creating content for a learner, we need to keep things engaging, instantly provide value, and give them a reward for spending their precious time. The reward could be a subtle payoff, a simple feedback mechanism that conveys the message, “Oh, that’s easy, this won’t take long”. It could be an element of personalisation. The point is to grab their attention, make the content their focus.

Once you’ve got their focus, you need to keep it! Again there needs to be a reward. This reward could be knowledge, another interaction, or a gamified experience. You’ll need to be constantly trying to keep their attention. It’s beneficial to keep things short, and keep things varied.

One of the most important things to remember about the way our brains work is that variety helps keep us engaged. Our brains aren’t designed for doing the same thing over and over again—we need new stimuli to keep us interested in what we’re doing.

Marketing experts know this, and they use it to create campaigns that are engaging and memorable. They use colour, different fonts, music and other sensory cues to get our attention and keep it. And it works!

When you’re designing learning activities, think about how you might incorporate these principles into your activity design:

  • Colourful graphics (and even photos) will help engage learners’ senses as well as their minds.
  • Use interesting fonts that break up text into manageable chunks and make it easier to read.
  • Use music or sound effects to add interest and make learning more fun (this one’s especially important if your learners are younger).

If you’re looking for a new way to deliver your content, micro-learning may be the perfect solution.

Micro-learning is something that’s being used more and more in order to deliver bit sized content that is easily consumed. Studies have proved that it’s better for the learners, but also it has a huge impact on production. You can easily roll out the fist few bite sized modules, and then collect feedback to help shape the latter part of the content, creating a more agile approach.

Other tips to help engage your user base are personalisation and gamification.

Personalisation allows learners to make choices, have their values portrayed, and convey their preferences. Using personalisation enables you to create meaningful experiences that matter to each individual learner. Personalisation helps create a unique bond between that learner and the tailored experience.

Gamification is another hugely important technique. Gamification is how through play, we learnt our cognitive and motor skills as children. As adults, we never grow out of this. A gamified experience allows the safety of a play environment to experiment with consequences, try new ideas, and explore various outcomes. An important thing to remember though is that the learner should be able to easily engage with the experience, and the mechanics shouldn’t be too complex.

When creating your next project, remember that your learners’ time is precious, and attentive, focused learning can create far more impact than just data and completion figures. Keep things simple, keep things brief, and keep things varied.