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As more corporate training is becoming self-directed, a major challenge faced by learning and development professionals is how to maintain the attention of audiences. This challenge has been addressed in part through advances in technology that allow us to create realistic graphics to simulate all types of real-world and real-work scenarios and interactions that stimulate learners.
Using these new development tools and techniques we are able to develop more interesting and visually appealing eLearning courses. But is that enough to hold the attention of learners?
Today we compete with more distractions than ever for the attention of our learning audience. And the expectations of learners have continued to increase, even as their span of attention drops. It’s no longer enough to present information and test for comprehension; we have to grab the interest of our learners and hold it. The best way to do this is by creating truly captivating content that exceeds expectations and sparks real interest in the information being taught.
The first rule in creating captivating content is that it has to be high quality. The surest way to lose the attention and engagement of your learners is to offer them sub-standard quality in any aspect of your eLearning material. Or, content that has been regurgitated and re-explained so many times it sounds like it’s coming from Charlie Brown’s teacher.
Most of our learning audience today has grown up in a media-rich and technology-saturated world. As such, they have much higher expectations from what they’re presented. With exposure to high-tech imagery like that found in the latest Hollywood blockbuster Jurassic World, today’s learners know what quality looks like. They also know what it feels like from interacting with video games, tablets and smart devices. This does not mean you cannot use 2D imagery or you must use game-like graphics, but keep in mind the quality your audience has come to expect in media.
Creating content that captivates your learning audience involves engaging with them on different levels and using different media types. This could mean incorporating some or all of the following features:
Using multimedia to engage different brain activities and senses is more interesting to our learners and leaves less room for outside distractions. Interspersing learning tasks with performance tasks can both reinforce the lesson, and keep the learner interested in the material. A good example of this technique can be found in the REVAS Firefighter training created by our team at Designing Digitally, Inc.
The challenge when designing training that simulates something as important and potentially dangerous as firefighting is to keep it realistic and relevant. The web-based training we designed for REVAS (Rescue, Exposure, Ventilation, Attack, Salvage) firefighter training used a combination of virtual reality, task performance, knowledge checks, branching scenarios and simulations. The learner is presented with a series of situations in which he must choose a path, perform a task, make a decision and test his knowledge and recall of his training. By combining these different tools, the learner/participant is kept engaged, interested and focused on the material.
Another example of captivating content can be found in the design and use of serious games that allow users to learn while engaging in interactive, game-based activities. Here is an example of a serious game that we created for a Fortune 500 company to help their sales force increase its productivity.
The problem faced by our client was that conventional eLearning and classroom-based training had failed to generate the results they were looking for. We designed and built a Serious Game in which sales associates could perform simulated calls using more than 500,000 potential dialogue options and scenarios. The employees earned points based on their success, and were provided with additional tools and information to grow skills in areas where they needed improvement. The result has been a more engaged sales team for our client and a more satisfying training experience for their workforce.
In each of the above training design examples and countless others, the goal has been to create captivating content that would keep the learners engaged. In doing so, we focused on the importance of content quality, incorporating different design techniques and tools, and making the training as interesting as possible for the learners.
If you want to learn more about creating captivating content and how Designing Digitally, Inc. can help your learning and development efforts, you can contact us here. We specialize in designing customized training solutions to meet any business need. Let us know how we can help you.