A Healthy Dose of Fun: The Prescription to eLearning Success

Even though I am on the brink of 30, one teaching experience from my youth has stuck with me: It’s the year 2000 and last period on a Friday. My dedication to learning is waning as thoughts of the upcoming weekend overshadow the 10th grade history lesson. We are discussing the industrial revolution and Henry Ford’s assembly line. Just as I am about to mentally call it a day, the teacher peaks my interest. To fully understand the impact of the assembly line, we are going to perform a scenario. The class is going to be divided into two paper airplane factories. The task? To assemble as many paper airplanes as possible within a set window of time and throw said airplanes into a waste basket.  The factory with the most planes in the trash can, wins.

Factory one contained a few workers, each with their own paper airplane making station. Each worker was responsible for handling the entire production process, folding the plane and throwing it into the waste basket. Factory two adopted the Henry Ford model. Each individual in the assembly line held one aspect of the production process. As an action was completed, the plane moved on to the next, ending with the assembly line sharp-shooter. As you may have already guessed, factory two arose victorious. Even though factory one contained the most skilled paper airplane makers, the efficiencies brought on by the assembly line could not be overcome. Some 12 years later, this lesson is still fresh in my mind. Why? The answer is simple, the teacher created an engaging, memorable, competitive, and enjoyable experience; a strategy all educators should strive to achieve regardless of teaching platform.

As eLearning developers, one of the biggest challenges we face involves maintaining user interest. This proves especially challenging when training is performed remotely and impersonally, through technology-based means. Rest assured, with a little creativity and mastery of interactive technologies, it can be done. Here’s how:

  1. An Element of Surprise: One of the biggest culprits responsible for dragging down the fun of eLearning is predictability. So many platforms follow the same peanut butter and jelly approach: Present the leaner with a slide of text with an accompanying graphic, video, or animation. Finish the presentation off with a multiple choice test. Snore! Wake the trainee up by doing something unexpected. Where appropriate, embed interactive scenarios where principles are brought to life and explained in real-world examples. Challenge the user with periodic questions, surveys or tips that break the monotony.
  2. An Aspect of Fun: Sorry to break it to you, but the presentation of text, voiceover narration, videos, and animations in and of itself isn’t exactly a trainee’s definition of fun. When presented in large doses, people can’t help but zone out, resulting in less than stellar levels of comprehension. Make it fun with interactive features such as a simulation or worksheet where the trainee is asked to do something and apply acquired knowledge.
  3. A Dose of Competition: Society is motivated by reward and what better way is there to spur involvement than with a competition. Make technology-based training a game by implementing a point-based system and public leader board. Pit trainee against trainee and department against department and watch interest and participation rise.
  4.  A Break from the Traditional: Because of the limiting nature of technology-based training, 9 times out of 10 testing is multiple choice. As a user answers a question and picks from a typical pool of answer possibilities, they are presented with an immediate response as to the validity of their answer. “Yes, you are correct.” “No, this is not correct, please try again.” There’s not much to it and no learning value extracted from such curt responses. Though it takes a bit more effort, get creative with the questions. Build scenarios where the user is dropped into the real world. The answer options should be equally developed and most importantly, plausible, to challenge trainees to make them pay attention and think. System response should add value to the learning experience. Do not simply state “yes” or “no.” Provide an explanation as to why the answer was correct or why it was wrong, while detailing the reasoning around the correct solution.

As a developer and teacher of technology based training, it is your responsibility to think outside of the box in order to generate the best learning experience. It is with this that DDA VMS can help. Contact us today to get started: 215-355-6442.