There’s no question that eLearning is a whole other ball game when it comes to education – from communicating virtually with mentors to often studying from the comfort of home, instead of school or college, the experience can be almost alien to learners, particularly if they are older.
For some students, working virtually can be a lonely experience, especially if there is little human connection within the content they are working with, and can hugely impact engagement levels.
For others, it’s a chance to concentrate without the distraction of other learners around them.
The key is striking the balance – making sure the human element keeps your online class connected, without making content unnecessary or meaningless to the user.
So, how do you make eLearning more human?
Thinking about who your typical learner is and how they engage with the online world is a great starting point when it comes to building engagement.
Younger people may already be fully-immersed in multiple applications and platforms, where ‘simple’ can quickly become ‘boring’. However, if you’re targeting an older audience, you’ll need to think about how much interaction they’ve likely had with the internet, which can inform the overall design for the user experience.
Once you’ve thought about expectations, it’s time to brainstorm your design. The more interactive you can make your design, the more likely you’ll be able to build engagement – and make it more human.
There are a number of ways to do this but some of the key things we would suggest are including lots of opportunity for video learning and gamification.
So, let’s tackle video first.
By incorporating video into your learners’ courses, you can build the personality of mentors, offer more down-to-earth explanations and examples as well as appeal to more senses through sound.
Some evidence even suggests that video can be as good as an instructor in communicating facts or demonstrating procedures – and, with advanced interactive features, students could even potentially ask questions and receive answers in real-time.
Then there’s gamification.
Arguably one of the best ways to drive engagement, gamification is the technique of using games to educate or test students with content that they have been learning via their online course.
It could be that they can play a game which pits them against all other users of the programme, allowing them to battle for the highest score and appeal to their competitive nature – making them feel they are almost a part of a game ‘community’.
But other ways to include it could be through quizzes, which challenge and reward the user with instant feedback at the end.
By incorporating both video and gamification, you’re sure to be onto a winning design.
peer and mentor communication
Another key area that many learners struggle with when moving to online learning is the lack of communication with fellow students and mentors – whether it’s about discussing good study techniques or simply asking for other opinions on particular parts of the content.
By building a forum, you can help your students feel like they are part of a learning community, where no question is a stupid question and they can possibly even make friends through shared educational interest.
It’s also worth noting here that not everyone enjoys email, especially when it comes to how things can be interpreted differently without being able to process body language to gauge reaction.
However, by creating an open communication environment, whether through live chat, voice messages or a forum, you can make sure all lines of communication are open, messages are answered thoroughly and efficiently and your students know they will receive a response or support with every interaction.
The crux really, though, is that it’s essentially not just about getting answers to questions at all – it’s about building relationships that build confidence and encourage your students to continue learning, even when they struggle.
These are just the first steps to building a more human and engaging online learning environment but, by working with an experienced eLearning team, we can make sure your students pick virtual education every time.
To find out how, get in touch right here.