– Isaac Tolpin
The biggest problem with e-learning is the high attrition of its users, with as high as 80-90% fallout from completing courses. This is a huge problem for higher education, which is currently wrestling with how to do this well. Regardless of the quality of your information, it’s useless unless it is consumed. Here’s how to solve this problem.
Humanize the experience. We now live in a curated world, in which people are used to controlling what they consume, where a five-minute video feels too long, and people no longer dutifully finish things unless they clearly see why it’s worth their time. Our world uses technology that often is superior to what we are given in our educational and work experiences. Differentiated courses match the behaviors of people today, especially the Millennials.
Millennials (born 1980 – 1999) are the largest generation in history at over 80 million people, but when it comes to online education, the fundamentals are starting to cross over into other generations.
Here are eight fundamentals to creating online educational experiences Millennials love to consume:
- Use visually stimulating media. Millennials are drawn to content that’s visually stimulating. Accomplish this through well-produced video, infographics, and good formatting. Be careful, as the learning management system technology you use could hurt you, since many lower the visual quality of the learning environment.
- Make it fun. Millennials believe there should be a mix of fun in everything, and nothing loses them faster than boredom. Gamification is essential to engage the learner; use progress bars, achievement badges, leaderboards, and challenges.
- Break it into small pieces. We live in a highly distracted society. Your content must be easy to consume. The average YouTube video is four minutes; keep your videos a similar length. Break up and limit text. Even if they learn lots the first time in your course, will they come back? Make it easy to return, because your learners know it will track their progress, and they can accomplish something in ten minutes or less!
- Motivate and guide versus giving information. What would you say to your learners in-person? Millennials want to know why they should keep learning; they want to be challenged, motivated beyond information. Utilize videos to influence them to learn, and tell them what to do next as you teach information.
- Break the rhythm. Predictability bores learners and causes them to drop off. Make sure, from lesson to lesson, there are surprises! Change the format. Replace the lesson video with a dynamic infographic and one powerful question to be answered. There’s beauty in going from an in-depth lesson to a simple but profound one.
- Socialize the learning experience. Your learners want to hear from others in the same experience. Utilize your learning management system or social media to allow social engagement. Allow access to the author; barriers turn off Millennials.
- Leverage mobile. If your course doesn’t work on mobile, Millennials may believe it doesn’t work at all, and many will leave. Text their phones to reinforce progress and invite them back into the course if they go missing.
- Create challenges that respect resourcefulness. Learners don’t want to be given all the information. They are incredibly resourceful at finding answers on their own. When you allow them to go find information, you are respecting their intelligence.
With the adoption of technology across the generations, gearing your instructional design towards Millennials will strike the right chord with most other generations as well. People rarely prefer long lectures. A list of videos by themselves won’t get consumed and large blocks of text get missed. Content blended into a mixed media experience creates the retention you want.
With Millennials, offer the best content and create a learning environment people love. If you don’t, very few will finish your course and, therefore, very few will be impacted.
Isaac Tolpin is an entrepreneur and leader in e-Learning, creating positive disruption by producing digital interactive learning experiences people love to consume. He’s the co-founder and CEO of Choose Growth media company and co-founder of Throwing Boulders, a company creating technology solutions, the father of six, and the husband of author Angie Tolpin.
This article is reprinted from Vol. 2, No. 1, of Nonprofit Performance Magazine. Subscribe today!
Latest posts by Sandy Birkenmaier (see all)
- Jeff Magee – Understanding Your Organizational Health Blueprint - June 2, 2017
- Roberta Gilbert – Organizations: Just Big Families? - May 26, 2017
- Manchester - May 23, 2017