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6 Tips To Create A Motivational eLearning Experience
As Terrel H. Bell once said, “There are three things to emphasize in teaching: The first is motivation, the second is motivation, and the third is motivation”. As regards eLearning, this statement is anything but extravagant; if we forget about motivating our learners, we simply forget that we actually want our eLearning courses to be successful. Learner motivation is the weapon you can use in order to fight learner procrastination, alienation, and frustration, our common enemies. It is the most powerful partner you can have in designing and developing an engaging eLearning course. It is, finally, the absolute energizing force that produces results. Only motivated learners will invest their time to absorb the knowledge you are offering them. Your job is to find out what motivates your audience and then use this data to lure them into their eLearning experience. Simply put, your job is to answer the question that ultimately pops up in every learner’s mind: “What’s in it for me?”. In this article I will offer you some suggestions on this matter and I will show you how to apply them in designing and developing your eLearning course, so that you can offer your audience a successful, motivational eLearning experience.
- Assess your learners.
The first step you need to do in order to have an idea about what motivates your audience, is to collect as much information for your learners as you can. The more data you gather about your learners, the more intelligent and effective your conclusions will be. But how can you collect this invaluable data? By assessing your audience before you begin developing your eLearning course, of course. To gain insight into their expectations and motivations, you need to know what your learners hope to achieve by participating in it, what is their current knowledge base, as well as other demographic data. Then, you will be able to choose the most effective instructional design model for your eLearning deliverable and create an effective collaborative eLearning environment for your audience. Only by having answered such critical questions you will be able to start working on the development of an experience that has motivational potential.
- Set clear eLearning objectives.
The second thing you need to do is to set clear expectations for your learners. The reason is that your learners need to know exactly, not only what they will be required to do during the eLearning course, but also why, and telling them what is expected from them in the beginning of the eLearning experience can be a very powerful motivator. In your eLearning course introduction you can briefly present the eLearning objectives and the outcomes that they should expect, so that they will respond to the information you are offering them. The key is to be as clear and brief as possible; provide your audience with comprehensible and briefly described eLearning objectives and tasks, concise technical instructions and, then, you will have already made a huge step towards creating a motivational eLearning experience.
- Make your eLearning course engaging.
This one is simple; if your learners do not find your eLearning course interesting enough, they will simply not be motivated to engage themselves in it. In order to entertain and challenge your audience during the eLearning experience, firstly consider increasing visual interest with the use of well chosen images and graphics, videos, and animations. Then, take advantage of eLearning games to ensure engagement with your eLearning content. Create levels of difficulty that expand your content, and challenges that grow as skills develop. Finally, examine the possibility of rewarding your learners; rewards are a very effective motivational tool. Include timed challenges, affirmations, reaching certain points of achievements, and, generally, everything you can think of that will connect you with your learners and make them feel satisfied after achieving a challenging eLearning goal.
- Add meaning to your learners’ experience.
Your learners will not be motivated unless their learning has meaning. Their motivation will be reduced if they view your eLearning course as something they “simply must do” or “just another job requirement”. All tasks you are designing and all choices you are offering must be meaningful to your audience. Offer your learners opportunities to develop their competence, boost their confidence, make choices which have meaning (i.e. consequences), and take risks in an environment that makes them feel safe to fail, so that they will learn from their mistakes. Finally, be sure that you follow an emotionally-driven approach, that will help your learners fulfill their psychological needs and, thus, find your content more interesting and engaging.
- Make certain that your eLearning course is relevant.
Relevant content is one of the most powerful factors of motivational eLearning. Your eLearning course must relate to your audience, by tying its content to your audience’s experiences, and offer them the opportunity to reflect. In order to ensure relevance to your learners’ needs, consider integrating real world applications, such as simulations and scenarios with real world benefits. Provide your learners with material relevant to your audience’s personal or professional interests and make sure to keep offering them several alternative choices and responsibilities. This way, they will feel that your eLearning content concerns them, so they will be more motivated to learn.
- Offer your learners meaningful feedback.
Finally, to create a motivational eLearning course you need to provide your learners with regular feedback. This factor also works psychologically: if your learners feel that no one pays attention to their progress, it is more likely that they will be demotivated. Ensure that you offer your audience regular, content-rich, and meaningful feedback about their choices and their progress. But feedback doesn’t have to be generated only by you; consider encouraging your learners to interact with each other and share experiences, questions and concerns in yourvirtual classroom or in social media. Because eLearning dropout rates tend to be higher when learners feel isolated, social learning and eLearning communities can be the ultimate way to motivate your audience to engage in your eLearning course. This way, the collaboration between learners and the feedback exchange will not only expand their learning horizons, but also create the perfect framework for a powerful, motivational eLearning experience.
Now that you know how to create a motivational eLearning course for your learners, you may be interested in how you can motivate… yourself. Read the article 7 Tips To Motivate The Instructional Designer and learn 7 tips that will keep you motivated, inspired, and going.