The introduction sets the tone for the rest of your course. It gives learners an idea of what to expect. A good introduction piques interest and sets learners up for success, while a bad one braces them for boredom. So how can you ensure your introduction includes everything your learners need for a positive learning experience? I’ve got some ideas that can help! Let’s unpack all the key elements you should have in place for a great course introduction. 

An Attention-Getter

It’s always good to start your course with something that’ll draw learners in. For example, a thought-provoking question, an eye-catching animation, a shocking fact, an immersive scenario … the possibilities are endless! The key is to attract their attention and get them interested in taking your course.

Take a look at two ways to introduce the same topic so you can see firsthand what a difference an attention-getter can make.

Here’s my first slide:

There’s nothing wrong with this slide per se. It’s aesthetically pleasing and attractive. But now let’s look at another way to introduce the same topic that’s more likely to grab your learners’ attention.

Click to view the interactive version.

Which of the above examples makes you more interested in engaging? I’m guessing most of you will agree it’s the second option.

Next time you’re designing the first slide of your course, think back to these examples and try to come up with an attention-getter that will reel your learners in. For more ideas, check out this article: 10 E-Learning Attention-Getters That Really Work.

The Estimated Course Run Time

One of the great things about e-learning is that learners can take it whenever and wherever they want. But how can learners work your course into their schedule if they don’t know how long it’ll take? Not easily! It’s important to give learners this kind of information up-front so they don’t get halfway through your course and realize they won’t have time to finish it. Sure, they could always come back to it, but odds are some of them won’t. And you don’t want that!

But how do you gauge how long your course will take the average learner to complete? Good question! It really depends on the course. If your course has audio from start to finish, calculating the run time should be fairly easy—just add up the total duration of the audio. If your course is mostly text-based, you could use the total number of words and the average reading speed—250 words a minute—to come up with a rough estimate. We’ve also got a handy Course Seat Time Estimator template that you might find useful.

Navigation Instructions

Whether you’re designing with Rise 360, which is fully responsive and intuitive to use, or relying on the built-in course player in Storyline 360, you can probably go without including navigation instructions since both experiences are so intuitive. But if you’ve designed your own on-screen navigation in Storyline 360, it’s a good idea to walk through how it works—no matter how intuitive it seems to you. For ideas on how to set this up, check out this article: 3 Tips for Clear & Helpful Navigation Instructions.

It’s also a best practice to give people a heads-up if your course includes audio by including an on-screen message. Otherwise they might start going through your course with their audio on mute and miss out on key information. 

Your Course Objectives

While the course learning objectives might seem obvious to you as a course creator, it’s important to explicitly state them to learners. That’s because course objectives serve the dual purpose of giving learners an idea of what to expect from the course and (hopefully) motivating them to take it.

For tips on defining course objectives that set the stage for learning, hop on over to this article: All About Learning Objectives for E-Learning

How to Successfully Complete the Course

If your course is required, one thing your learners will likely want to know up-front is how to get credit for the course. Do they need to simply view 100 percent of the slides? Do they need to get a certain score on a quiz? Whatever the requirement, let your learners know on the front end so they can keep it in mind as they’re taking the course.

Need help determining what score learners should have to get on the quiz to pass? You’ll love this article: Creating Quizzes: Choose a Passing Score.

More Resources

A good course introduction sets your learners up for success. If you’ve included everything outlined here, you can be confident you’ve done all you can to guide them in the right direction.

Looking for more instructional design tips from the pros? Check out these related articles:

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Sources for sample course content: