engaging-content

How to write engaging content for your elearning courses

Remember how different it was being in the class of a teacher at school that really cared about what they were teaching? We remember the bad ones not because of what they taught (or didn’t teach) but because they were mean or nasty or vindictive. The best teachers, on the other hand, we remember because of how fun they made the lessons.

Well-written, engaging and relevant content is the most important thing in guaranteeing that your LMS and training strategy are successes. Without engaging content your LMS is all but redundant – it can be chock full of great features, social learning tools and great ways to collaborate and stimulate engagement, but if the core material – the stuff the learners need to absorb to make progress – fails to excite or engage them then all is for nothing.

The learning process has changed a lot over the last few years. Traditional methods of classroom-based, instructor-led training, while still important, are now bolstered by new methods like gamification and social learning.

Teaching isn’t, and hasn’t been for a long time, simple repetition and memorization. The elearning industry, given its online nature, has always been ahead of the curve with regards to normalizing these teaching methods and developing them further, and the need to create engaging content has never been higher.

What follows are a number of points you should follow when creating dynamic, engaging content.

  • Know your audience

The importance of knowing your audience inside out when creating engaging content cannot be overstated – these are the people you want to engage! You will need to know what motivates them, how they spend their time and how they like to communicate. Creating engaging content is all about finding the best way of communicating with your audience. Some steps to follow are:

  • Firstly you need to find out what they already know. No use in retreading old ground – it’s futile and a surefire way to make them disengage.
  • Get plenty of demographic information. Age, sex, education and ethnic background could all play an important part in how you choose to engage, the references you make and the examples you use.
  • Know what hardware and software the training will be delivered on. There are so many amazing ways to create dynamic and engaging content for your training, and nowadays thanks to mobile learning the content can be played on almost any device. But this is no good if your audience can’t make use of it.
  • Be aware of the audience’s skill level. Similar to knowing how they will be using the training content, if they don’t know how to use certain devices or software then something will be lost. You need to create content around your audience’s skillset  in order to guarantee the highest engagement.

All of this information can be gathered through a combination of surveys, focus groups and observation.

  • Keep content relevant.

This may sound obvious, but there is no way you will know that your content is completely relevant unless you have already carried out an audience analysis.

Irrelevant content = boring content. It is so much harder these days to keep audiences stimulated – everything they could possibly want to know is at their fingertips. Fill the gaps in their knowledge with engaging content that speaks to them and solves a problem and they will come back for more.

  • Think about layout and design.

Creating engaging content isn’t just about knowledge transfer, it’s about design and pacing too. You’re content might be the most intellectually engaging topic in the world, but with elearning if you don’t choose the right delivery method then this can easily be lost.

If you don’t have any experience graphic design then it may be worth talking to a graphic designer.  The content has to look good or else the learners will disengage early on. Infographics and striking images are key to drawing attention, as well as providing useful visual representations and cues.

Screens are read 25% lower than the printed word, so be sure to break your text down into small bitesized chunks. Nobody wants to have to read an essay that only makes one point, and the truth is probably no one will! Cut out the flab and make sure everything is relevant.

Learning paths allow trainers to set an order to courses and learning material which guide them towards a specific goal. It is important to bear this sequencing flow in mind when designing courses.

  • Tell a story

There’s a theory – narrative theory – which posits that we as humans learn to understand the world as a series of stories, each with a definite beginning, middle and end. Everything from your career to relationships can be seen through this lens, and the ability to engage with material is boosted considerably if the learner engages with the story.

Aside from this stories are a great way to add life and color (metaphorical of course) to your material. It’s easier to remember the content if it is framed in the context of a narrative as learners can immediately relate to characters and plot.

  • Understand what medium the content will be delivered on

The content in series of slides being used to support a classroom-based lesson will be hugely different from a gamification-based class.

Paradiso LMS is responsive and can be viewed on any device. When creating content this should be at the forefront of your mind. How will it look on a smartphone? How will it look on a tablet?

  • Make sure the knowledge sticks

It’s no use creating all of this lovely engaging content unless you can be sure that it is all being absorbed by the learners. Don’t leave it all for one final exam – this puts a lot of pressure on the learner and makes the final exam much more terrifying.

However if you periodically check that what they are learning is sticking, then you can not only gauge the effectiveness of your elearning content but also help learners to reengage with information they should be taking on board. Use mini quizzes like multiple choice or drag and drop to refresh the knowledge and keep it at the front of the learner’s mind.

There are so many other ways in which you can ensure that the content you produce is dynamic and engaging, but if you follow these steps then the others will come with time and experience.

 With every Paradiso LMS license you get access to our course authoring tool- Paradiso Composer. This elearning authoring tool lets course designers create dynamic and engaging content online. If you would like to know more about Paradiso Solutions and how you can write engaging content with Paradiso Composer then follow this link to our Contact Us page.

Sam Lewis

Sam's background is in translation and content creation and he brings years of experience from living and working in the UK and Latin America. He has a Masters in Translation from the University of Manchester and a Bachelors in Modern Languages from the same university. In his free time - when not doing translation - he writes for a local lifestyle magazine and enjoys watching movies and eating out (and reviewing both of them).

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