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5 Ways To Optimize Your eLearning Courses And Maximize Learner Engagement

After the creation of the iPhone, can you guess what the obvious follow-up question was? Naturally, it was, “How do we make it better?”

All eLearning professionals are eager to figure out ways to improve their courses to continue to build off their investment and keep seeing an impact on their audience.

Despite the topic, an engaged learner is more likely to complete a course, and more than that, do it well. Whether it’s a workout class or compliance training, a genuine interest makes the experience enjoyable and the hours fly. 

A mundane workout instructor or format will result in a class as painful a dull and monotones compliance eLearning course. This rule is standard, but given our consumption, these days elearners are less likely than they were before to stay focused. Engagement and comprehension are as vital as it ever was because there is so much battling for their attention at any given time. 

Below are a few time-tested tricks that can help you achieve that. Read on to learn how you can begin to apply them today for maximum optimization across the board. 


1) Tweaking your courses FOR the learner instead of to the learner 

Brands are eager to learn more about the people who consume their products. They have come to understand that the better that they know them, the easier it is to appeal to them and satisfy them. 

If instructional designers approach learners the same way, the learner becomes a consumer. There is a potential change in learner engagement if the course is redirected to serve them better.

Before a product is released, there have been loads of meetings, brainstorms, and strategies built around one question: Who will buy it? Teams need to identify who needs the project, who wants the product, and how to get them the consumers to see it that way.

Similar to this process, the success or your eLearning course is highly dependent on getting to know your audience and creating a balance between what the business needs and what they want to learn.Once your team has listened to the feedback, they will know how to apply these insights to eLearning design, user experience, and delivery methods.

Technology, efficiencies, and community have all given us the ability to learn from the people we are trying to educate, employ, or sell products. If this information is available to us, it’s only natural that we would tweak our courses for the learner instead of to the learner. You see the difference?

Grab this free template: A Template to Carry Out an eLearning Audience Analysis

2) Assessing The Need to Determine The Change

Though need assessments are usually the first to go when time constraints are tight, it’s swimming up the river, and it’ll serve a big point against your training course as it opens the way for the following consequences:

  • Allows the risk that specific items that are holding the group back in performing their jobs is not pinpointed and therefore, not included.
  • Your team risks developing and delivering content that doesn’t support the organizational needs.
  • It may not have adequately packaged the content for the targeted audience. This disconnect means that your audience might not accept all the hard work that you’ve put it down, which results in lost money and time.

Any psychologist will tell you that to change a behavior, you first, have to change the thinking. The thinking is what drives the action. So, for a real change, the attitude or lack thereof is required for a shift.

In short, not running Needs Assessments puts you at risk at not engaging the learner, higher dropout rates, and flunking your desired outcome. However, you can combat these unfortunate occurrences with information attained through the assessments.

DON'T Skip the Training Needs Analysis! Here's Why

The data from these assessments will help:

  • Identify the learner, collect data about the learner, and prioritize their needs
  • Determine the right setting/delivery
  • Filter selection of data
  • Inform your team on emotional, experiential, and knowledge readiness to learn
  • Determine which additional resources might be helpful 

3) Embracing Consistency 

For learners to have an intuitive experience and engage with your eLearning course, it needs to display consistency throughout the course. Colors, buttons, icons, images, and typography all have to carry a sense of purpose and order. When all these visual elements are designed to look and function consistently, there is also a sense of cohesiveness. 

Establishing an initial visual style guide is vital for eLearning development. Of course, changes will occur, but having a reference point is key to not straying too far from your initial idea.

Be wary of “This will look amazing!” additions that do not align with your “look.” It sounds silly, but even though images might be witty or funny, if it doesn’t make sense with the rest of the design choices, it’s going to create frustration and even confusion the learner. 

A great trick is to add a screen or have a PDF featuring the style guide mentioned above (colors, buttons, icons...). Go back to it as you develop your course. Before moving on, use it as a guide to evaluate each finished screen. This exercise will save you much time later on. 

Remember, it won’t take too much time for your learner to pick up your design style, but if you stray too far out, you will probably lose the confidence of the learner throughout the rest of the course.

Read more: 5 Methods to Achieve Visual Consistency in eLearning

Also read: Use This Guide to Keep Tone Consistent Throughout the Course

4) Coupling Learning with Interaction

Technology makes it extremely easy to share documents, create interactive graphics and make the learning experience more immersive. As learners continue to “digitize” their lives, employers should follow suit.

Consider leveraging interactive capabilities when creating your eLearning courses. Take those existing "eBook courses" and transform them into experiences that facilitate an active learning. Features to consider are simulations of tasks or step by step videos that include pauses for exploration and problem-solving, for instance.

Leverage the online format to couple together learning content and interaction. Even if your content is static, providing feedback or questions to follow may help draw out a connection between your learner and the material they’ve been asked to review. Also, you may learn how your student interacts with the content through these types of activities. 

Watch out! Many eLearning programs make the fatal mistake of focusing on only one kind of interaction and ignoring the rest. Avoid this by learning more about eLearning interaction. Ensure the right amount of all three types of interaction. 

Read more: eLearning Interactivity: When It Works and When It Goes Wrong

5) Focusing on Solutions and Actionable Content

Practice makes perfect. Few say the same about theory. People learn things at an accelerated pace when they take action because action removes doubt.

In eLearning, our focus, as instructional designers, should be generating solutions and promoting learners to take a specific action. Establishing a definite challenge and citing relevant steps for each work task is critical to get the learner going.

When you begin to create the eLearning course, make the problem-solving primary on your list. Make sure the action is crystal clear. Interactions and icons can space out content, so it’s all digestible and clearcut. Consider what influences your learner in their journey.

After detailing the expected actions, draw out the consequences (both positive and negative) of each step. At times, we are oblivious to why things are a certain way. Address that. This focus on the specific action against the problem will optimize the impact of your communications as its extremely directed to get the learner from A to B to C with the inclusion of WHY each is important.

Also read: Use these strategies to improve eLearning audience engagement.


So again, when your team meets and asks “How do we make it better?” present these list of suggestions. They are time-tested tricks that allow for any course to reach their next level through simple changes and easy application.

 Instructional Design Tips


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