4 Tips for Connecting with Learners Kinesthetically in eLearning

4 Tips for Connecting with Kinesthetic Learners in eLearning

I’m wrapping up this series on different sources of learning by offering tips for connecting with learners using kinesthetic elements. Kinesthetic learning may be the most difficult way to serve learners via eLearning. Those who enjoy kinesthetic learning enjoy being physically engaged, and prefer hands-on projects, labs, and fieldwork. They may dislike sitting still for long periods of time and need frequent breaks to move around. All of these preferences create a challenge for instructional designers, but with creativity, you can mold your course to engage your learners in this way.

Passive versus Active learning

  • Don’t Show Me, Let Me Do It– Subjecting your learners to endless audio, videos, or Flash may not always be the best way to engage them in the lesson. In fact, it may be the quickest way to lose your learners’ interest. Some learners may prefer to interact with the material rather than passively watch or listen. For these learners it’s a good idea to employ scenarios, drag and drops, and interactive flow charts to engage their interest and give them opportunities to practice the skills.

Allow for Breaks

  • Break it Down– Some learners like to understand the “big picture” before focusing on the details, so crowding the page with information is a sure way to lose their attention. To keep learners interested, break information down into easily digestible sections. Don’t overload the page with text or graphics. Breaking the information down into short sections will also give learners the opportunity to take frequent breaks, allowing them to recharge and renew their focus.
  • Can I Have That To Go?– If your learners enjoy movement, you might consider using mLearning for your content. Delivering a course via mobile device means that your learners can study away from their desks, on the go, or even at the gym. With today’s increasingly busy schedules, many of your learners will appreciate the flexibility of mLearning’s portable format.

Think outside the screen

  • Think Outside the Screen– Just because an eLearning course is on a computer doesn’t mean the course has to fit within the screen. Consider incorporating pen and paper activities or assignments that involve using the learner’s surrounding environment. This is easier in ILT, but it can be done in WBT. For example, learners taking a food safety class could investigate their own kitchens for possible hazards and report back, offering real-world skill application and a hands-on activity.

 

Do you have any tips for engaging learners kinesthetically?

6 Tips for Using Visuals to Connect with your Learners in Online Courses

 

Human eye.

Learners sometimes remember what they see better than what they hear. Some learners tend to prefer reading, writing, and art to listening to lectures or music. Fortunately, eLearning is by its nature a highly visual medium. The key is maximizing your tools to create a truly effective and engaging eLearning experience.

 

  • Use Metaphoric Visuals– Using graphics may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to use “filler” images, rather than meaningful ones that augment the material. Think about visually representing concepts. For instance, you might show the parts of an essay as the various cars of a train, having the learner click on each train car for additional information. Metaphoric images like this can stick in the learners’ mind, making it easier for them to recall the concepts later.

 

  • Use Concrete Visuals– Or you might use images that directly depict the subject matter, such as showing a form and highlighting the key points as you move through it. If you can use images to forge an emotional connection with your learners, it is even better. Images that make learners laugh, feel sympathy, or stimulate their curiosity will make your course more engaging and memorable.

Using Visuals to Connect with Learners

 

  • Break Up the Text– You can also use pictures to break up text-heavy pages, which can strain the eye. Inserting images throughout can give the eyes a rest, and allow the brain to connect the images with the text. Isolate the key information on the page and use images to direct the learners’ attention to that information.

 

  • Quality is Key– Don’t use generic photos, unimaginative graphics, or poor quality images. Use images that show real people, places, or things, and that connect the learners’ prior knowledge to the new information. Make sure the images are appropriately sized and laid out in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

 

  • Think Visually– It’s easy to fall prey to the dreaded bulleted list for page after page, especially if you’re a linear thinker. Instead, try to imagine the information visually. Can you make those bullet points a chart, mind map, timeline, flow chart, or graph?

 

  • Use Videos– Videos can be a great tool, especially for showing “how-to.” Many people enjoy watching others to learn a new skill. YouTube has plenty of tutorials where you can learn everything from knitting to bricklaying, attesting to the popularity of visual learning. If your budget allows, creating your own videos can be a great way to take your course to the next level.

 

  • 508 Requirements-Just keep in mind that as with all visual elements for courses that require access for people with disabilities that there are special steps required to make sure that images and videos can be properly accessed by the various screen reading technologies. More on this topic in a later blog.

 

Do you have any tips for using visuals to connect with your learners?

Tips for Using Animation in eLearning Courses

Life Science Demo Animation

Adding animation to your eLearning courses is an excellent way to emotionally connect with learners, break down difficult concepts, and enhance the learning experience. In this post I’ll review the benefits of using animation and offer tips for creating effective animations.

 

 

Why Use Animations?

Movement and Mood– Animations give your course personality and movement. Our eyes are naturally drawn to motion, and animation offers more visual interest than a static screen. You can also use animation to set the course’s mood. Do you want learners to feel relaxed or alert? Is this course going to be light-hearted or serious? The animation you use in your introductions can impact your learners’ mindset as they approach the material.

 

Information Accessibility– Animation is also a great tool for breaking down difficult concepts or multistep processes. For example, some courses use whiteboard animation, which is a popular and engaging method of depicting complex information as hand drawings on a whiteboard in sync with audio. Showing difficult concepts as bite-sized animated chunks makes them more accessible to learners and easier to retain. You can also animate static graphics like charts and graphs, making them more engaging. Further, animation gives learners the ability to learn at their own pace. They can replay the animations as many times as they need or even slow the animation down, making the information incredibly accessible.

 

Social Context– Lastly, animation can create social context for solo learners. Most learners are accustomed to instructor-led classroom or seminar settings, which include social interactions with peers and instructors. Including a social aspect in your eLearning course can boost learner motivation and interest. You can create animated characters that act as expert instructors, peer instructors, or co-learners, simulating a classroom experience.

Dos and Don’ts

While animation can be a great tool, when used incorrectly it can demotivate or even annoy learners. Here are a few tips to keep in mind so learners get the greatest benefit from your animations.

  • DO offer a mute or skip button: Give learners the opportunity to mute animations or skip introductions, especially if every section begins with the same animation sequence. Respect your learners and give them control over their eLearning experience.
  • DO use a well-written script and high quality audio recordings: Poor quality dialogue or audio that is too loud, busy, or poorly recorded will not engage learners.
  • DON’T use animation that’s inappropriate for the audience: Remember your learners are adults. Animation, while it can be funny, cute, or entertaining, should always suit the audience, subject matter, and mood of the course. Avoid anything juvenile or inappropriate.
  • DON’T use “filler” animation: Animation should always connect with and/or augment the material. Don’t use animation to fill space or add it just for entertainment’s sake. When in doubt ask yourself, “Is this relevant to the content?”

In a later blog, I’ll discuss how to ensure that learners with disabilities have an equivalent experience (section 508 compliance) when animated elements are presented in a course.

Check out our Life Sciences animated Demo by clicking this link.

How have you used animation in your learning development?

 

 

5 Things Crossfit Can Teach Us About eLearning

crossfit and elearning

Crossfit is hot. It started out as a training program in a garage and has turned into a Reebok-backed fitness phenomenon with over 10,000 affiliates worldwide.

 

Crossfit is, according to the official definition, “constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.” Basically it makes you eat awesome for breakfast and gives you the body of a superhero.

 

What’s Crossfit got to do with eLearning, you say?

 

Everything.

 

Crossfit is effective and engaging, everything you want your eLearning courses to be. Let’s take a look at what makes Crossfit so successful and how you can incorporate those elements into your eLearning.

 

1) Constantly Varied

Each day when you go to your gym you’ll see a workout that’s totally different from the one before. You might be rowing, rolling an enormous tire across the parking lot, or scaling a fifteen-foot rope to the ceiling. Your body (and your brain) never knows what to expect, and that keeps things interesting.

 

The same is true for eLearning. Don’t subject your learners to slide after slide of bullet points and dry narration. Find ways to present the information creatively. Appeal to your learners’ emotions with a compelling narrative. Or allow them to explore branching scenarios that show the consequences of their actions. Use interesting visuals, videos, and audio to keep your learners’ attention.

The human brain responds to novelty. Keep your eLearning interesting and varied.

 

2) Functional

The idea behind Crossfit is to make your body better at functioning in real life. This is why Crossfit has such a huge following among firefighters, law enforcement, elite martial artists, and military members, but it’s also attracted huge numbers of stay-at-home moms, retirees, and desk jockeys of all varieties.

 

Got to carry eight bags of groceries up eleven stories because your apartment elevator is out of order? No problem. Sprinting to catch the metro? Crossfit has you covered. The exercises you do in Crossfit will prepare your body for the challenges life throws at it.

 

Take this attitude and apply it to eLearning. Avoid data overload and stick only to information that will impact your learners’ functioning. What do they need to know in order to do their jobs? Any “extra” information should be provided as additional “Resources”.

 

Also, you want your course to provide opportunities for learners to practice the skills you’re teaching, which means engaging and relevant interactions. This will make sure your learners are exercising the mental “muscle memory” needed to perform the desired task.

 

3) High Intensity

In many Crossfit workouts you’re racing the clock. (How many pushups can you crank out in ten minutes?) Or you’re going for a one rep max. (How much can you deadlift?)

 

Use this same approach in eLearning. Have your learners race the clock to answer questions. Or put them under pressure in a simulation where they have to make quick decisions, just like in real life. Anything that gets adrenaline flowing will make your course much more engaging.

 

4) Competition

Humans are competitive animals, and we like to win. That winning euphoria is addictive, and keeps Crossfitters coming back to the sport. In Crossfit it’s all about beating the clock, beating your own personal record, or mastering a skill you never thought you could do. The high achievers want a spot on the coveted Leaderboard, which shows the top male and female scores.

 

You can infuse your eLearning with competition by using gamification principles. In gamification, you use techniques employed by video games such as experience points, leaderboards, and badges to raise the stakes and boost enthusiasm and competition.

 

5) Feedback

One of the best things about Crossfit is you’re joining a gigantic, knowledgeable, and supportive community. Your coaches and fellow athletes will correct your form, share strategies and tips, and cheer you on.

 

This kind of high quality feedback is important in eLearning. Make sure you’re giving consistent and helpful feedback throughout the course. You can also use branching scenarios to show learners the real-life consequences of their decisions. Lastly, consider using social media or message boards to create a collaborative community of learners who can work together to solve problems, complete activities, and share feedback with one another.

 

Put these elements in place and see your eLearning reach new levels of effectiveness.