Effective Learning Design - Three Ways to Get People's Attention

Oct 11, 2018 by Carolyn Ruocco

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How far into this paragraph do you think you can get before your mind starts to drift? Before you’re buzzed, or pinged, or feel the need to Google something? Research says that most of us are interrupted—or self-interrupt—every three minutes. So you might make it to the end of this paragraph without straying… or you might not.

As educators, this creates a complicated conundrum: if you’re not paying attention, you’re not going to learn anything. That means we need to get your attention and keep you engaged so you’ll stick with it. (Or, at the very least, come back after you’ve drifted off.)

At Nomadic, we tackle the attention challenge by combining engaging, intriguing, and challenging content—that makes learners hungry for more—and our exceptional user interface design and top-notch technology do the rest.

Here are three ways we recommend to get, and keep, your readers attention:

1. Curate Concisely and Carefully
Learning content has to be short and easily consumable. That seems obvious enough. But to be effective, it also has to be meaningful. That’s why curation is one of our main focal points. Great curation means selecting the exact right ideas and concepts to teach, putting them in precisely the right order in which to teach them, and limiting the learner’s experience to a focused and narrow set of concepts at any given moment. Producing short pieces of content is easy, but producing short content that is both conceptually precise and consistently engaging is hard. It’s a pretty tall short order.

2. Mix It Up... Strategically
A single type of content—no matter how interesting it may be—gets boring. And no single medium is right for all kinds of learning: video is best for telling stories, illustrating a process in action, and enlivening a debate; text is vital to teaching basic concepts, principles, and practical tips. Learning that is a consistent mix of video, text, image, and interactive elements provides the most effective learning experience. If your experiences are designed so that every time a learner does something passive, like read text or watch a video, the next piece of content engages them in something active: a quiz, poll, discussion, or game, you will keep the audience engaged. This also helps make the learning stick. The more you practice retrieving and using new knowledge, the more it embeds in your neuropathways, and the more it keeps you engaged.

3. Meet Users Where They Are
People learn differently online than they do in classrooms or from reading textbooks. Long pages of text or poorly produced videos of lectures won’t keep people’s attention. Crappy user interface and inferior technology (pages that load slowly or require you to zoom in and out on mobile) irritates learners, making them unlikely to stick with a program. Make sure that all of your learning is designed specifically for the media that the learners will use.

Designing the best learning experience goes beyond getting the learner’s attention. Stay tuned for next week’s blog on the best way to engage learners and get them talking. Want to provide your team with the best learning experience? Book a demo and see Nomadic in action.

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