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    5 Human Psychology Facts You Can Use To Create Effective eLearning

    The potentials and limitations of our brain shape the way we learn. Professionals, from psychologists to neuroscientists, have started to integrate brain research into online learning.

    More specifically, a psychologist by training and education, Dr. Susan Weinschenk takes research and knowledge about the brain and extrapolate UX design principles from that. This post takes the psychologist’s view of UX Design and applies it to eLearning.

    Here at SHIFT, we believe that in order for us to design effective eLearning we need to understand the fundamentals and principles of how we learn. Ay eLearning designers who fail to consider the brain's role miss a lot of opportunities. 

    Below are 5 psychological principles you can use to build effective eLearning courses: 

    1) People Don’t Want to Work or Think More Than They Have To

    Truth is people will do the least amount of work possible to get a task done. Especially in eLearning, learners just want to get the information they need as quickly as possible and then go back to work.

    Our brain is designed to focus on or process a limited amount of information. Too much of that amount can make learners become less creative, less productive, and less able to make good decisions.

    Here's what you can do:

    • Design your course material so that learners can accomplish it at their own pace.
    • Share bits of information and let them decide if they want to learn more. 
    • Tell them what they need to know and let them go. Otherwise, they are likely to ignore it or not finish the course. Giving learners more than they need just clutters up the learning experience. 

    Also read: 

    2) People Have Limitations Especially When it Comes to Learning

    Cognitive psychologists have found that the brain has its certain limitation in the amount of information it can process at once. When a piece of information enters the brain and enough attention is given to it, it is processed by the long-term memory and stored in the brain along with related information. Similar ideas are grouped together. This is why people can use learning strategies including chunking.

    Storing new information, however, can be very difficult if there is no relevant information to store it with. So it is likely that those unrelated bits and chunks of information in your course material will be lost before learners can even recall them. Make sure your target learners can create associations between the different pieces of content in your course.

    Here're other things you can do:

    3) People Are Naturally Curious - They Crave Information!

    People are naturally curious, they like to learn and discover beyond what is shown to the naked eye. It's no coincidence that documentaries are the most watched category on Netflix.

    The more curious people are, the more questions they ask, the more they explore, the more connections they make, the more time they spend learning…and the more satisfied they are in their professional lives.

    eLearning designers can stimulate and arouse curiosity to attract the learner's attention or increase their interest. For example, start the course by asking a question. Questions are engaging and invite people to want to know the answer.

    If students can't answer the initial question, it will motivate them to take the course and continue to find the answer, getting them to commit from the start.

    Asking a question at the beginning of an eLearning course is a great strategy. Students can't walk away as easily as they can with a bullet screen!

    4) People are Social Beings Who Learn Better Together

    People will always try to use technology to be social, so give them the opportunity to be part of a group.  Two heads are better than one. At least three things can happen when a person learns with another person or a group. They can work together, compete with each other (and thus try to do better), or work on their own but share similar goals with other students.

    No matter what interaction pattern learners are involved in, they can effectively provide and receive feedback so that they are motivated to learn or at least finish their tasks. People look to others for guidance on what they should do, especially if they are uncertain. In your eLearninng courses, create opportunities for your workers to interact, whether it is a blog with comments or a forum. 

    Also read: Successfully Apply Social Learning to Your Existing eLearning Programs

    5) People Are Not Distracted When They Are Focused on Something Important

    Our brain is wired to pay attention to a maximum of 3-4 things at a time, that is, if we allow it to. For course designers, this means we need to prioritize the science of attention and design eLearning to minimize distractions.

    Here're some ideas you can start implementing:

    • 1 module, 1 goal: each module should also have its own singular objective clearly defined.
    • Summarize: Write a summary or overview of the course's section in a few sentences or in a visual way. Include your most important points to be covered.
    • Design for Fluctuating Attention Spans: While we have focused on grabbing attention, even once you get learners to focus it doesn’t mean they are going to stay focused. Attention naturally fluctuates, and you can design your courses in intervals to follow this inevitable variation. Recapture their attention every 5-10 minutes by shifting the focus of information. 

    Also read:

    There are many other psychological principles eLearning course designers should be aware of. This is a good list to start with if you want to make your materials more effective.

    Winning eLearning

    Diana Cohen
    Diana Cohen
    Education Writer | eLearning Expert | EdTech Blogger. Creativa, apasionada por mi labor, disruptiva y dinámica para transformar el mundo de la formación empresarial.

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