Tools, Methods and Design Strategies for Engaging an Online Audience

Designing for Learner EngagementIf learners are going to find eLearning content interesting enough to learn from it, that content must be engaging.

But what is the secret?

How do we know if our content is stimulating enough for others to find it engaging?

Tracy King, chief learning strategist and founder of InspirEd, says all brains learn the same way and follow a similar process from attention to application. How people focus on new information and process it will decide how engaging an eLearning course’s information will be to a learning audience.

What determines how people focus on and process information depends on who they are, and who they are learning from. Other factors include the learning environment, visuals used, and language that can either stimulate or exclude an audience. 

King says, “When learners feel like they’re not on the ‘inside’, they disengage.”

Below we will explore King’s most effective strategies, tools, and methods for designing for engagement for an online audience.

Start by designing inclusive learning experiences

To influence engagement with an online audience, we must “design inclusive learning experiences by better understanding our audiences.” King added, “Without engagement, there is no learning.”

For someone to absorb content and actually learn from it, they must be engaged. To engage them, we must capture a learners attention, focus their attention in the direction we want, and try to keep their attention away from other distracting factors found in an office, classroom, or anywhere else.

Online courses must present a learning environment that can capture attention throughout the learning activity. Once that happens, we connect what is relevant and meaningful about the subject so the learner will gain interest, and then they will be motivated to learn. This results in engagement.

Integrate the three super strategies to foster online engagement

After engagement, learners will begin to motivate and create interest by themselves. But to get to this point, there are three super strategies used to foster engagement. They are visual design, story, and social connection.

Visual Design

Visual design, the first strategy, must incorporate clarity. Everything on the screen must have a purpose, contribute to the objective, and have visual clues built into screen design. It must use memory strategies to send information to long-term memory, activate prior knowledge, and store for later recall. The visual design must also create a simple, yet meaningful experience, so the learner will personalize it.

Story

The second strategy, story, converts information into meaning, engages imagination, creates interest, and explores solutions. The way we, as humans, remember and how we communicate is like a story. When someone asks us about an event, we recount a story.

Social Connection

The third strategy, social connection, is a big motivator for adult learners. It’s important to create opportunities for our learners to develop ideas together, refine them, interact, and then articulate those ideas. Exchanging ideas and self-expression for learners are very powerful.

When attempting to engage, use real life examples if possible. They are powerful! By using real life examples, people can relate with firsthand (prior) knowledge of their own, or someone else’s similar and meaningful experience.

If you want to make your reader feel a certain way, another good tactic is using a picture of a person with an obvious emotion. People relate with emotions and mirror them. Familiar emotions are captivating. When learners reflect, they are personalizing what they learned. Reflection is absolutely required for effective learning.

Choose the right engagement tools and methods

As you design your eLearning program look for ways to use the following modern day tools and methods.

Two-way dialogue: Talk to your online audience, speak to them and welcome them to your online event. Suggest and encourage them to interact, and show them how. Recognize and thank those who do engage. After all, who doesn’t like praise and recognition?

Interactive tools: There are many tools available to accommodate interaction between a virtual and physical audience including polls and chat rooms. Do what you can to have them use their keyboards every few minutes to interact. Try scheduling events where participants can meet and greet. Games and exclusive video content are good examples.

Moderator: Don’t let your online audience sit there not participating! This invites them to tune out and multitask. Having a virtual moderator is a great way to initiate conversation and stay engaged. Give your presenter questions from the audience. It’s important for the moderator to send out a call-to-action to the audience with clear instructions on how to ask and answer questions, vote, or communicate with other members.

Filling in the breaks: Sometimes in between sessions or during the lunch break, online attendees will lose interest and find something else to do. To prevent this, it helps to have a live host to interview speakers and thought leaders with questions from the online audience.

Visual aids: People are attracted to anything visual. They love video. Show your audience something that relates to them. Highlight reels from the current event or previous events are a favorite. In this situation, audience members often recognize speakers in these videos. It’s similar to recognizing a friend.

More tools: Other engaging tools include testimonies, photos of current or previous events, a look behind-the-scenes, live demonstrations, and quotes from speakers or celebrities that might be meaningful to the audience. And everybody loves a good music-laced video montage!

Learn from the expert. Register here to start a free membership with the iCohere Academy and watch expert Tracy King’s presentation eLearning Design: Designing for Learner Engagement. Plus, gain access to more than 25 free on-demand trainings. Membership to the Academy is free.

The iCohere Academy the largest worldwide professional community of practice dedicated to the evolution of webinars, web meetings, and hybrid/virtual conferences. Membership to the Academy is free.

eLearning Design: Designing for Learner Engagement

Special guest presenter TRACY KING, chief learning strategist and founder of Inspired-Ed. In this video, Tracy shares science-based strategies for designing engaging eLearning. Fundamentally, this session is a peek into what it takes to engage a learner brain and what we can do to create an optimal learning environment online.

Key Training Takeaways:

  1. Discover what triggers learner engagement (based on neurobiological underpinnings of attention)
  2. Review brain sticky qualities we can employ in digital course design
  3. Explore five key engagement strategies
  4. Plus, a free checklist for designing for engagement

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