Header Image - 4 Quick Tips to Make Your E-Learning Stick

Effective e-learning needs to be engaging enough that learners will want to take the time for it, and yet substantial enough for learners to recall and apply later. As such, e-learning pros are challenged to use a little creativity to persuade busy learners to pay attention to what we’re teaching them and then apply it to their jobs. That means making the information easy for them to remember later on.

But how do we do that? I’ve got a few ideas to share with you, so keep on reading!

1. Make It Useful

One surefire way to make something memorable is to make it useful and relevant. This means designing content that’s helpful and concise.

Here are some tips to try:

  • Start by asking questions. Instead of a tedious setup (opening titles followed by navigation, objectives, an introduction, etc.), drop your learners right into the action by asking them a thought-provoking question or giving them an engrossing scenario. If you think about it when people ask you a question, it’s pretty attention-grabbing, isn’t it? The same applies to your learners. Get them intellectually and emotionally stimulated and you’ll have them engaged right from the start. 
  • Demonstrate the value early. People are more apt to focus on information when they see that it has value in their everyday life. Try using a pre-test, a self-assessment survey, or a compare and contrast exercise to challenge your learner’s assumptions about your topic and grab their attention right away.
  • Give them practice. It might seem obvious, but demonstrating steps with a short how-to video or a screencast is helpful, but what works even better to get people thinking and applying new knowledge is to follow it up with practice.
  • Let learners hear from their peers. Most people pride themselves on doing good work and contributing to their teams. Hearing from folks who’ve successfully applied what they’ve learned in your training can signal that the content you’re sharing is relevant and helpful—and foster a healthy sense of competition among peers.

2. Get to the Point

Sometimes the key to making your e-learning more memorable is knowing which information to emphasize first. There are many ways to approach organizing your content for learning, but one go-to is to put the most critical information front and center, followed by progressively less critical information.

Structuring content in an “inverse pyramid” is an approach journalists use. It looks like this:

Inverse Pyramid

This structure helps prioritize information and minimizes the nice-to-know details that can add unnecessary bulk to your course. Particularly for longer courses, where learners might lose steam, this approach helps you be sure that the essential information is communicated right from the start.

3. Use Analogies

Analogies are great for helping learners connect new ideas with the information they already have. Making these connections, in turn, increases the chances they’ll remember what you’re sharing with them.

For example, if you were trying to teach someone about how a tornado forms, you might compare it to the way water spins as it goes down the drain of a sink. Water spinning down a drain is a simple, relatable concept and a good starting point for talking about the forces of nature at work.

4. Use Visuals

When it’s time to design your e-learning, think about ways you can visually present information other than a bulleted list of text. For instance, can you morph that new product info into a series of labeled graphic interactions that’s both eye-catching and inviting for learners to explore? Can you turn those dos and don’ts into an interactive scenario with realistic characters and an immersive background?

If you’ve enjoyed these tips and want to learn more about how people absorb information, don’t miss this fascinating interview with Julie Dirksen, founder of Usable Learning and author of Design for How People Learn.

What are your tried-and-true tips for making e-learning that sticks? Share your thoughts with me in a comment below. I’d love to hear what’s been working for you!

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Paul Foreman
Jay Berger