Just for a moment, think about the user experience of your training course. Forget about the quality of the content, the message, or how much more knowledgeable a learner should be once they complete the course. When you consider the user experience, how boring is it?
Boring training courses often look very similar – they usually contain slides with text, often in bullet point form, as well as some basic images. Some special effects might be added, like creative transitions between the slides, but the content itself is boring.
That does not mean slides or screens with images and text are inherently boring. The boring element is the repetitive nature of this content, i.e. slide after slide of essentially the same thing.
The content itself doesn’t even matter in many instances. In fact, you could have the most informative, most insightful, and well-written content possible but the course itself can still be uninteresting.
I see this type of content all the time – you may even have sat through learning courses in the past with this sort of content.
It is not very effective, but there are solutions.
Why Is It Important to Make Training Interesting?
If the content is not interesting and enjoyable to go through, people will be more reluctant to do so. Even if you force them, the results won’t be as good as they should be, particularly in relation to knowledge retention.
The better option is to create a course that engages the learner because they enjoy going through it. If you do it right, they will want more and will welcome future training initiatives.
How Do You Make Training Less Boring?
- Make the content media-rich with high-quality images, stunning design, video, and audio. Remember, many learners are used to this sort of experience when they access their favourite websites or apps. If your training is up to the same standard, learners will be more likely to engage.
- Following on from the previous point, the characters and stories that your images, video, and audio portray should be fun, engaging, and interesting. A quirky avatar, for example, can liven up a course more than a simple video voiceover and definitely more than basic text.
- Gamification elements can also help significantly. The standard non-interesting training course with repetitive slides as mentioned above is passive, i.e. all the user has to do is click, tap, or swipe through to the next slide. With gamification, you add interactivity where the learner has to get involved. They also have to think about what they have learned, plus gamification elements can be fun in themselves. For example, you could incorporate social sharing where learners share their score on a quiz with other learners.
- Learners are put off when they go through courses or parts of courses that are not relevant to their day-to-day reality, or that are too general in their focus. The content in your courses should, therefore, be as relevant to the learner as possible. This is much easier to achieve with e-learning than it is with other forms of learning as you can tweak particular modules to be more relevant to a particular subset of users.
- Following on from the last point, the best way to present this learner-relevant content is through realistic stories.
- In addition to the previous two points, you should use interactive elements, examples, and scenarios in the course that are as close to the real world of learners as possible. The more abstract and distant, the greater the chance of losing their attention.
- Keep modules short so learners can complete the overall course in bite size This makes it less daunting to go through the course in the first place, plus it helps with the learning process, particularly if you use regular testing and content reinforcement techniques in each module.
- Finally, and most importantly, is variety. Slides that have a bullet point list of text work well in many training courses so long as you use them in conjunction with other content.
Of course, delivering on the principles outlined in this article requires a number of skills – design skills, technical skills, and a knowledge of how people learn. If you don’t have these skills in-house you have other options available other than compromising on the quality of your course, i.e. just because you don’t have a designer in-house doesn’t mean you have to compromise by producing boring training. Outsourcing the production of your e-learning course is always an option.
Damian Hehir | Co-founder | Capytech