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Over the years, employers have become increasingly aware of the importance of professional development to their employees. After all, they understand no one wants to be stuck in a dead-end job.
Today, job seekers aren’t just looking for the biggest salaries – they’re seeking opportunities that “pay well” in other ways such as on-the-job training, education and ongoing support to move up the career ladder.
So, it’s unsurprising that digital learning materials are fast becoming an integral part of modern workplace culture. These materials are usually used by organisations and their leaders to train staff, convey new knowledge, or even provide project updates.
But here’s the thing; for this type of learning to work well, it needs to be persuasive and engaging. Indeed, there’s an art to creating effective learning materials.
In this blog, I’m going to share a few of my ideas on how leaders can achieve the best results from their learning content. The basics before we dive into the more complex aspects of creating great learning content, here are a few ground rules everyone should follow.
Map out a plan. During the planning phase, you should decide upon the learning objectives and aim to deliver the lesson within a few minutes. A concise, bitesize lesson structure will help you stay on topic and avoid overloading learners with too much information.
To avoid confusion and wandering minds, the lesson should also make learning objectives clear from the outset and lead learners through a series of logical steps towards the final goal.
Short words and simple sentences
Yes, you might think they sound intelligent, but long-winded sentences are a common cause of confusion and boredom among learners – along with long words and industry jargon. They simply take far too much brain power to process! Avoid this by using bullet points to break up text into small digestible chunks.
Also, use simple plain English so everything you say can be understood quickly and easily without anyone having to make a grab for the dictionary.
Use an active voice
When it comes to learning content, an active voice should always be used. An active voice instils a sense of presence and movement within the course material which helps learners feel connected and engaged with the author. Don’t be afraid to add some humour or personality to your content for a bit of extra spark.
Highlight key facts and statistics
Sometimes it’ll be necessary to include a few facts and figures to illustrate or back up the messages you’re seeking to deliver – but burying these within text doesn’t exactly make them memorable. Break out boxes adjacent to text is a great way to make key facts and statistics stand out. And if you need to economise on space, at the very least, highlight text to indicate key takeaways.
Connect with the learner
People find it easier to understand new concepts and retain information when they resonate with the content in front of them. So, put yourself in the learners’ shoes and try to incorporate examples, illustrations and explanations that draw on their own real-life experiences and scenarios. It’ll give them a reason to remember what you’ve told them.
Create an immersive and interactive experience
Presenting information in a way that’s easy to understand and remember is only part of the game. It takes a persuasive and engaging lesson to keep learners’ attention right through to the end. That’s why it’s important to encourage a sense of involvement with a lesson that continually moves and stimulates the mind – and there are several ways to do this.
Take advantage of different mediums
You’re no longer limited to textbooks so don’t make your lessons look like one! Integrate video, audio, animations, and images to create a more dynamic and interactive experience – even a sense of fun. But don’t get carried away. Make sure everything you include is strictly relevant to the overall learning objective. Too many visuals can be distracting and confusing.
Use graphics and diagrams
Sometimes, complex technical points can be difficult to convey using the written word. What’s more, large amounts of reading can make for a dismal learning experience. Used wisely, graphics and diagrams offer a welcome break for the eye, but also a more effective way to illustrate points and explain concepts.
Make sure the design is consistent
The lesson must look aesthetically appealing, well organised and authoritative. No one will take messages seriously if they’re delivered through a poorly presented mash-up of different fonts and colours. Consistent use of font, branding, and colour will ensure a more cohesive look and feel which will, in turn, facilitate an unbroken flow of engagement (without any confusion).
Include links to extra resources
While it’s important to deliver your learning objectives succinctly without dwelling on too much detail – learners should be provided with everything they need to easily build on their knowledge. Lessons are much more successful when the most enthusiastic learners can dig deeper while those who struggle can help themselves out along the way. They’ll also make your messages more credible and persuasive.
Recap and reinforce
In a classroom environment, tutors can throw spontaneous questions into the mix at any time to keep learners on their toes. And there’s no reason why learning materials can’t do the same. Building in mini-quizzes and bullet-pointed recaps are a great way to keep learners’ minds active throughout the lesson and instill that all-important sense of participation.