SHIFT's eLearning Blog

Our blog provides the best practices, tips, and inspiration for corporate training, instructional design, eLearning and mLearning.

To visit the Spanish blog, click here
All Posts

Struggling to Keep Learners Engaged? Get Back to Basics


Remember how you learned math?

You went through four stages. You learned what adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing mean (tell). Then your teacher taught you how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide (show). You practiced sums (do), and then came the dreaded exams (apply). This is how all learning takes place, and it is no different with eLearning.


The lesson here: effective learning doesn’t require expensive technology. You have a plethora of tools and technologies to create eLearning courses that bring out the "wows." But your eLearning course will fall flat on its face if the content fails to engage the learner.

In this post we’ll explore a tried and tested technique for learner engagement: The Tell-Show-Do- Apply model. This is a useful starting point for the basics of learner engagement in eLearning environments as it covers the critical stages required in the learning process.

B5_The-4-Stages-of-the-Learning-Cycle-1

#1: Inform (Tell) 

All learning has to start with knowledge in its basic form. This stage is a one-way communication channel, where there is no learner interaction; you just present information to the learner. Here you introduce him/her to concepts; facts; the steps of a procedure; and the features and parts of an object, process, or an idea.

These are the instructional strategies to keep in mind in this phase:

  • Use appropiate attention grabbing techniques.
  • Reiterate the learning objectives to establish relevance and whet interest.
  • Tell learners: What, why, how, when and if applicable, Where.
  • Refer to prior learning to link what you are about to teach to personal experiences.
  • Discovery learning: help learners discover and become aware of what they already know. 

These are the tools to help you achieve your ends in the Tell phase: 

  • Questions: Ask probing questions to engage the learners and find out about their prior learning.
  • Flowcharts: Use these diagrams to present a quick overview of the content.
  • Metaphors: Use these to impart a sense of familiarity with unknown concepts.
  • Stories and Drama: There are no better hooks!
  • Visuals (Infographics, Photos, Diagrams): Pictures do a better job of explaining complex matter than words. Use them to explain the big picture of the subject.

#2: Demonstrate (Show) 

This is the Demonstration phase where you provide specific examples and real evidence of the concepts, principles, and processes introduced in the Tell phase to help learners apply their knowledge in the next stage (Do). Focus on delivering context and experiential learning. After all learners need to understand the knowledge if they are to use it.

Here's the instructional strategy:

  • Explain with examples and analogies from real-life scenarios that the learners can relate to. This reinforces the relevance of the course. In some cases, throwing in a few non-examples along with the examples can better clarify concepts and procedures.
  • Design the course to let your learners take charge of the pace at which they want to learn. Adult learners prefer to wield the joystick themselves.
  • Round off by listing the critical learning points especially after a complex demonstrative activity. 

There are several tools you can use to demonstrate concepts and principles to learners:

  • Case Studies: Application- and result-oriented adult corporate learners are usually hooked by this problem-based learning approach.
  • Scenarios: Create realistic scenarios and make sure the characters ooze authority while being relatable.
  • Simulations: Simulations mimic the reality of the learner and place the learning in context while keeping the learners engaged.
  • Visual Aids: Comparison tables and concept maps help learners visualize complex information and show relationships.
  • Step graphics and tables: A complex procedure should always be broken down into its constituent steps.
  • Guided Animations and Videos for what-happens (processes): How a procedure is being carried out is not always apparent from textual explanations or even photographs. Video or guided animations clarify better.
  • Examples and non-examples: Create examples and non-examples that reflect the reality of the learners.
  • Infographics: Comparing two processes, ideas, items, or people? Infographics area great tool for this. 

#3: Do

This is the Practice or the Let Me phase of your course where learners can apply the knowledge they have gained and the skills they have learned. 

Here are the instructional strategies to keep in mind:

  • Pepper your course with practice activities. Repetition aids learning and recall.
  • Focus on activities that mimic the reality of the learners.
  • Structure your courses so people can teach themselves.
  • Choose the appropriate practice activity depending on the nature of the content and the level of learning.
  • Design feedback, so that it becomes another learning opportunity. 

The following tools will help you design effective practice activities:

  • Drills: Drills are effective for practicing low-level or foundational skills.
  • Simulations: These are effective for practicing application-level content.
  • Scenarios and Case Studies: These compel learners to analyze multiple types of data to arrive at the solution.
  • Role-Play Activities: Role-playing practice activities let learners apply their newly-learned skills to solve real-life and dynamic problems within the controlled learning environment.
  • Games: Games engage learners and provide a welcome break, as long as they remain relevant to the content being learned.

#4: Apply

This is the Assessment or the Check Me phase that evaluates the learner's performance against the stated learning objectives.

Here are the instructional strategies to keep in mind: 

You can use the following tools to encourage learners to take the learning back and apply it on their jobs:

  • Knowledge Checks
  • Games
  • Simulations
  • Pre- and Post-Tests
  • Matching, Fill-in-the-Blanks, Multiple-Choice, Short Answer Questions

Knowing the appropriate instructional strategy and the specific content format that aids learning and practice ensures your course achieves the learning objectives and doesn't disappoint learners.

engaging eLearning courses



 

Karla Gutierrez
Karla Gutierrez
Karla is an Inbound Marketer @Aura Interactiva, the developers of SHIFT. ES:Karla is an Inbound Marketer @Aura Interactiva, the developers of SHIFT.

Related Posts

Four Ways to Create an Effective mLearning Strategy

Chief learning officers, learning leaders, and training coordinators everywhere are well aware of the need to increase mobile training programs. After all,  74% of employees say they access resources from their smartphones to do their jobs— and that number is expected to continue to grow. 

How to Design Microlearning Around Moments of Need

Let’s be honest: your employees use smartphones and tablets every day, everywhere — including in your workplace.

  • 8 min read
  • Thu, Jun 16, 2022 @ 04:44 PM

The Basics of Motivational eLearning Design

When we think of the word, motivation, instantly two things come to mind. First, when we are young, many outside things motivate us, a desire to do something, the reality of punishment from our parents, positive and negative reinforcement of what we are doing, etc. All of these things help to motivate children, and in some cases, it has a positive effect, and in other cases, it does not. The more proactive the motivation, the more positive the response to that motivation, the more reactionary the motivation, the more negative the response. The second picture that comes to mind is a learned reaction to something. Like Pavlov and his dogs, which would salivate when he rang the bell, motivation can be at times subconscious. However, there are much more things that drive the motivation of human beings, and in the arena of learning, there are some critical pieces to the puzzle that have to be developed so that learners feel the value of what they are learning and how it will benefit them. The rewards of their success must be considered from a variety of sources and satisfy them on a variety of levels, and as instructional designers of e-learning programs, we must not only understand these factors but be skilled in utilizing them in the courses that we design.