Are you listening at the back?

A key question for our instructional designers is “How do you grab attention and engage the learner right from the start?”

This question is particularly relevant to compliance courseware, where the learner may well be taking an eLearning course because they have been told to, not because they want to.
Back in the dim distant past, a distinguished if dusty academic somewhere (probably Sheffield!) must have written an authoritative paper to the effect that “good” eLearning starts with a welcome screen, then a list of the learning objectives, then a menu, then when you launch your first section, another set of learning objectives for that section. Then when you get to the end, there they all are again.
This “wisdom” quickly found its way into the mainstream, and for the budding eLearning designer there is copious advice available on how to write these bullet lists of tedium.
“At the end of this module you will be able to understand / appreciate / explain / define / state / describe …… “
Leaving aside the passive nature of much of the language when we really want the learner to be able to DO their job better, does anyone ever read the objectives any more?
So, at Unicorn we have been experimenting with some alternatives. Here are a couple of ideas you might like to try.
The Cameo. These short movie clips appear at the very start of our new compliance courses. A character (a professional actor) talks emotionally about how they came to be in jail or in the dole queue.
In at the deep-end. An immersive approach to eLearning design with the learner thrown straight into a “real life” situation, in this example a selling opportunity in the showroom.
The news room. This is an attention catching approach that mimics the excitement of the TV newsroom.
The short version. Another style of up front attention catching and I think a far more engaging way of telling the learner what they are going to be studying than a boring bullet list. Here’s a sample from our web site.
I’d be interested to hear what you think and what has worked for you?

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