In an ever-changing digital environment, the battle for hearts and minds goes on in earnest. Online forces such as Facebook, YouTube, eBay and Twitter are fighting a war intended to divert your attention from all of the things you really should be doing. As new contenders emerge, your ability to dedicate time to each distraction is diminished. If the trend continues, soon you’ll only be updating LinkedIn every other hour, and reducing your kitten video intake to six per day. Can you imagine it?
Social media has changed our lives. It connects people from all corners of the globe, and the speed with which we can share ideas and information is staggering. But research tells us that amid all of this social change, the age of social media is changing us fundamentally as human beings. According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information at the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the average attention span of a human being has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to eight seconds in 2013. That places us behind the average goldfish in terms of attention span. I’ll give you 10 seconds to digest that…
While e-learning can bring huge returns for companies who do it well, it can also be a waste of time and money when it’s delivered poorly. When you ask your staff to take time away from their work to complete an e-learning course, you are adding another element to an ever-growing list of work demands. If you find it excruciating to wait 10 seconds for your kitten video to load, imagine being asked to endure a two-hour training course designed to achieve little more than tick a box on the Human Resource department’s to-do list. Think about the last time you had to complete a long piece of online training – how was your engagement with the content after 30 minutes? An hour? An hour-and-a-half? The longer a course is, the greater the tendency for it to become a race to the finish line for learners. And the impact on learning outcomes? You be the judge.
Don’t get me wrong, not all subjects can be wrapped up in a short and punchy 30-minute e-learning course. But, more often than not, the 120 minutes of e-learning you might be considering rolling out to your employees will be far more effective if delivered in four shorter, more digestible 30 minute pieces.
Your e-learning course needs to adopt the principles of the social media distractions it is competing against. It needs to be short, sharp and to the point. It needs to engage the user not through bells, whistles and other distractions, but through the use of meaningful content that is easy to follow and encourages the learner to think for themselves. Once this is accompanied by strong visual design principles, we have the foundations of an effective e-learning course.
Fortunately for learners, the two-hour e-learning course is slowly becoming a thing of the past. E-learning designers are more learner-focused than ever and employers are becoming more and more knowledgeable about how to deliver information to employees in interesting and engaging ways. This trend will only continue as e-learning becomes ubiquitous in the workplace.
Bigger, in the case of e-learning, is not better.