Rock Your eLearning Course Intros With These Ideas

From SHIFT’s eLearning Blog by Karla Gutierrez

You have 60 seconds to hook, engage, and keep learners in your course.

Within these 60 seconds you have to make a connection with your audience of learners, introduce them to your course, and show them why they need it and how it will make a difference. You must address and succinctly answer all of the following:

  • Is this the right course for me?
  • Will it be covering the right topics?
  • How good is its content and delivery?
  • How long before I lose interest and get bored?

Achieving all of this within the first 60 seconds is the objective of your introduction.

This post will explain four simple but useful ideas to make your introductions powerful and memorable. Let’s see how you can hook your learners and reel them in within the first 60 seconds.


Idea # 1: Push them into the GAP with a teaser 

“The Gap” is a technique to hook the learner. It is a concept created by Nancy Duarte.

It shows the learner the difference (the gap) between where they stand now and where they will be after taking the action you are prescribing — namely, completing the course.

To highlight this gap, it is crucial that you completely understand your target audience (by creating a learner persona). The gap points out the difficulties they are facing and then shows how they can be overcome by the action you are recommending, e.g. learning a software, details about a product, etc.

Remember, the gap is a teaser — a sneak peek of what is to come — and not a summary of the solution.

Hence, like a teaser, you must promote the benefits the course will offer with a short story. And like a promotional teaser, you must withhold key pieces of information so that the learner is compelled to continue with the course.

Example of using the gap:

Using a short promotional video that shows the overview and lay of the content — A narrated overview of the course will show the audience how thorough the content is and how easy it is to use the course e.g. simple slides, structured content, recaps, powerful images, animations, Infographics, videos, etc.

Using Infographics as teasers — Infographics are a great way of summarizing the major points (the course or a topic) and showing all relevant information in one shot. They allow the audience to easily skim through the content and figure out the information that is helpful for them.

Idea #2: Let them gauge their competency with a Pre-test or a Mini Quiz

Questions activate prior knowledge and can prove powerful in motivating and hooking the learner to your course.

A non-graded pre-test or mini-quiz before a course will inform the audience about what they already know and where are they lacking. However, for the quiz to be effective, you must cover all major learning points, preferably by topic. Given that the purpose of the quiz is for the audience to assess themselves on their own you must not restrict access to the quiz questions by allowing them complete control — in terms of time and their ability to go back and repeat questions.

Your task is to motivate people to “want to” learn from your course. A great way to achieve this is to use the quizzes to show them the topics in the course that cover those questions. If they miss a question, the quiz can highlight the topic area that addresses that question. Furthermore, you can make the pre-test or quiz more interesting by giving them useful hints and tips when they make a mistake.

Remember, it is important that the quiz/pre-test must not instill the idea that they are being judged or marked. Clearly state that the test is non-graded and made available to get their mind chugging.

Idea #3: Step in with an image

Images are also a powerful medium for engaging and hooking the learner.

Using a powerful image on the title screen is a great way for starting a course. The right image can force the learner to reflect, offer a theme, and hence set the tone for the course. The right image is one that is able to accomplish three goals:

  1.      Is powerful enough for grabbing and holding attention
  2.      Is relevant to the message you want to communicate
  3.      Is meaningful and can speak for itself

Meaningful images will capture your learner’s imagination and hook him/her to take in the information presented next. This makes it crucial that the title image is selected very carefully.

It is not always necessary that the image must communicate the entire message. You can also use images to fill the gaps in a story — you know, use it as a metaphor, an analogy that people can relate to with stories from their lives.

When researching for images, avoid using direct terms and instead find more abstract images that people can relate to, e.g. instead of searching directly for “leadership”, think about events where leadership is required such as rowing in a canoe, a man standing at an impasse with followers, etc.  Furthermore, avoid solely relying on stock images; rather try to take your own snapshots or creating your own from multiple images. You’ll be amazed what you can come up with.

Idea #4: Animate Motivational Statements 

Leverage your subject matter experts (SMEs) to communicate your message in the motivational segment at the beginning of the course. Learners are known to respond better to motivational statements when they are delivered (or referred to) experts, and when they are delivered by animated characters.

People relate to authority figures (specialists, SMEs, etc.) and everyone wants to know the tips and secret sauce from successful people. Hence by introducing SMEs early on or making a reference to a distinguished expert will hook the learner immediately.

Apart from leveraging SMEs, you can also start your eLearning course using an idea/statement from famous person. You can use interesting excerpts from your course audio/video clips. This is a great way for setting context and tone for your course and preparing the learner for what’s to come next.

In Conclusion:

As an eLearning course designer, how engaging and structured the content of the course is, is as important as the way the course is introduced to the potential audience. Hence, it is crucial that you put in additional effort when designing the introduction to your course — one that hooks, engages, and keep the learner in your course.

All the best!

Want more ideas?

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