5 Tips for Dealing with Distracted and Impatient Learners

People aren’t patient—and the learners in your online training program are no exception. So how do you design your e-Learning course for short attention spans and impatience in this fast-paced world?

Problem: The way people read online today creates a challenge for designing e-Learning courses:

People don’t read; they skim. Less than 20% of content on an average web page is actually read, according to an eye-tracking study. People skim content and pick out words, rather than reading every word and sentence on the screen.

Solution: Here’s what you can do to make sure your learners still absorb content:

  • Use bullet points! They present the most important information in an organized format and allow learners to skim. A numbered list is also good to use, when it fits the context.
  • Write concisely. Learners will skip over extra clutter that seems unnecessary and unfocused. You can use e-Learning objectives to help you stay focused. Check out this blog post: 4 Tips for Creating Effective e-Learning Objectives for Yourself.
  • Go for top left! Research shows that when people look at content online, their eyes usually start at the upper left corner and move out from there. When reading specifically, people often move in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe. Placing important content here will increase the chances of your learners seeing it.
  • Visuals are your friend! Add carefully placed visuals to support your content. It gives your learners’ eyes a break and can also help illustrate your content and connect with your learners. In addition, visuals can help give learners a positive first impression for each portion of your course. Plus, your visual learners will appreciate it! To learn more about designing for visual learners—and the other learning styles—read this blog post: How to Accommodate the 4 Learning Styles in Your Online Training.
  • Group content in small sections. Break up large amounts of content into smaller, more manageable sections. According to George A. Miller, who formulated the “chunk” concept in 1956, working memory is limited in capacity, so there’s a limit to the amount of information people can remember or learn at once. Breaking content into smaller sections, or chunks, makes the information easier to understand—and remember.

Want to learn more about how our brains affect learning and e-Learning course development? Check out this helpful blog post: 5 Strategies for Designing Brain-Friendly e-Learning Courses.

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