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    The Art of Creating Short, But Effective eLearning Courses

    In recent years, eLearning has undergone a transformation, with a growing emphasis on microlearning. This approach to learning involves breaking down longer courses into shorter, more condensed modules, with the goal of increasing efficiency. Shorter eLearning courses have proven to be less time-consuming and more effective, particularly given that modern learners have less time and shorter attention spans.

    As organizations have come to realize the benefits of microlearning, they are increasingly adopting this approach as a way to engage employees in just-in-time, bite-sized learning. This shift has been driven by the recognition that it's unrealistic to expect learners to sit through hour-long courses without interruption. Instead, the focus is on delivering shorter bursts of truly productive learning that can be absorbed and retained more easily.

     


    However, despite the clear advantages of microlearning, there are still many organizations that have yet to fully embrace this approach. Failure to do so could lead to a number of problems, including decreased engagement, reduced learning outcomes, and a failure to keep up with the evolving needs of today's learners.

    In this article, we will explore the benefits of microlearning and why it's essential for eLearning professionals and L&D teams to adopt this approach in order to maximize the impact of their training efforts.

    Read: E-Learning study: Short bursts and rapid assessments boost learning 

     

    Instructional Design Tactics to Create Shorter eLearning Courses

    When it comes to eLearning, keeping it short, sweet and to the point is essential for engaging learners and maximizing the effectiveness of your training efforts. Here are six teaching bullets to help you streamline your content:

    1) Organize

    Organizing your eLearning content is essential to keep it manageable and effective. By planning out the objectives and strategy in advance, you can ensure that your content remains focused and engaging.

    Some actionable tips to help you organize your eLearning content include:

    • Create a storyboard to map out your content structure.

    • Present one idea per screen to avoid overwhelming learners.

    • Use a consistent structure for your eLearning content to keep learners engaged and on track.

    Also read: 5 Strategies to Organize eLearning Content Effectively

     

    2) Rewrite to Remove Unnecessary 

    To keep your eLearning content concise and engaging, it's important to eliminate any unnecessary text. Simplifying your language and cutting out any redundancies will make your content more accessible and easier to digest.

    Some tips to help you remove unnecessary text include:

    • Eliminate wordiness by swapping nouns for verbs. For example, "The yoga teacher gave a suggestion for modifying the pose" can be changed to "The Yoga Teacher suggested modifying the pose."

    • Create punchy sentences. Typically sentences should contain anywhere from 15-20 words, and it’s always good to vary the length of sentences to maintain interest.

    • Remove needless modifiers. Take out words that don’t serve a specific purpose, such as “really,” “totally,” “actually”, and “much.”

    While the above are simple ways to shorten content, it’s important that you never sacrifice clarity or meaning in exchange for brevity. The key to success in eLearning creation is striking a balance between the two.

    Recommended reads:

    Avoid Learner Overload: Five Rules for eLearning Course Design

    How To Avoid Designing Cluttered eLearning Screens

     

    3) Keep it "Need-to-know"

    Including only the most relevant information in your eLearning content is crucial to keep learners engaged and motivated. Avoid overloading them with information that they don't need and instead focus on what is essential for them to learn. 

    The question then becomes how do you decide what stays and what goes? 

    Evaluate content using the following standards, to determine what must remain and to remove:

    • Is Content Clear and Accurate? When content is designed to educate employees, always look for a combination of clarity and accuracy. If anything muddies the waters and makes a salient point unclear, it can be removed. The same goes for accuracy. If there’s anything that can be confusing or potentially inaccurate, it should be the first to go.

    • Can Your Audience Use All Information? Ask yourself whether or not the material is going to have a real, tangible impact on employees’ performances and daily lives. If the answer is no, take it out.

    • Are You Over-Explaining? Examples are good in workplace training if they’re relevant. Avoid having too many examples or ones that don’t fully support content.

    • Is The Level of Difficulty Appropriate?: If you’re creating content for an introductory-level audience, refrain from bringing in higher level concepts. Save those for later courses, when your audience has the necessary building blocks.

    • Is The Information Available Other Places?: If your audience can find information from other sources, such as a news site, a blog post or an employee guidebook, take it out of eLearning. This would be considered “nice-to-know” information, rather than must-know.

    4) Say it with a Visual

    Could you say it with a picture?  If content can be better explained in a visual manner, eliminate the text and convert concepts into a visual. 

    Incorporating visuals into your eLearning content is an excellent way to make complex ideas more accessible and engaging. Visuals can help learners to understand and retain information more effectively than lengthy written explanations.

    Here are some actionable tips to help you say it with a visual:

    • Use graphics and infographics to visually convey information. Infographics can be especially useful for condensing large amounts of data into an easy-to-understand format.

    • Consider videos to demonstrate complex concepts. Videos can provide a more immersive and engaging learning experience, especially when learners can see real-life examples of the concepts they are learning.

    • Keep your visuals simple and easy to understand. Avoid cluttering your visuals with too much information and stick to a simple, clean design.

    • Get creative with visual design. Use color, images, and other design elements to create visually appealing and engaging content that will capture learners' attention.

    • Use animation to bring concepts to life. Animated visuals can help learners to better understand complex concepts and processes by breaking them down into simple, easy-to-understand steps.

    Also read: The Complete Checklist for the Perfect eLearning Course Design

     

    5) Eliminate Repetitiveness

    Repeating the same information across different types of content can be disengaging for learners and may send the message that you don't trust them to understand the material. For example, if you have a text slide in your course and the same information is repeated in a narration, learners may feel like their time is being wasted.

    To avoid this, here are some tips to help you eliminate repetitiveness and keep learners engaged:

    • Ensure that each type of content complements and builds on the others. For example, use graphics to illustrate concepts that are introduced in text or narration, rather than repeating the same information.

    • Avoid repeating the same concepts across different types of content. If you must repeat information, try to present it in a different way or use a different example.

    • Assume learners' intelligence and avoid undermining it by repeating information multiple times. Trust that they can understand the material and use the content to build on their knowledge. 

    Examples of how to avoid repetitiveness include using case studies to demonstrate concepts, incorporating interactive activities that allow learners to apply their knowledge, or using gamification to make learning more engaging and fun. By using a variety of techniques to present information, you can create eLearning content that is engaging, informative, and effective.

    6) Spaced, Bite-sized Chunks

    When it comes to eLearning, it's important to remember that learners have limited attention spans. If your course is too long, learners may become overwhelmed and struggle to retain the information. To solve this problem, consider breaking your course up into shorter, more manageable segments.

    One example of how this strategy can be effective comes from a company that was struggling to train its employees on a new software system. The original course was two hours long and included a lot of technical information that was difficult to understand. Despite multiple attempts to revise the course, the company found that employees were still struggling to learn the system.

    Finally, the company decided to break the course up into smaller, bite-sized modules. Instead of a two-hour course, they created six 20-minute modules that focused on specific aspects of the software. Each module included interactive activities and quizzes to reinforce the information.

    The results were impressive. Employees reported feeling more engaged and motivated to learn, and retention of the information improved significantly. By breaking the course up into smaller chunks, the company was able to create a more effective and engaging learning experience for its employees.

    Some tips for creating spaced, bite-sized chunks include:

    • Break up long courses into smaller, more manageable modules.

    • Space out the information to allow learners to process and absorb it.

    • Consider using microlearning to present information in short, digestible chunks.

    • Include interactive activities and quizzes to reinforce the information and keep learners engaged.


    You see, with a little strategizing you can deliver workforce training that will resonate with employees over the long-term. Cut your eLearning courses and you’re going to see a significant improvement in your training ROI, along with employees that are engaged and enthusiastic about training.

           writing tips for elearning


    REFERENCES:

    Elizabeth Macfie.  Shortening Text: When, Why and How. 2013

     

    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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