How To Create A Meaningful e-Learning Experience: 6 Tips For e-Learning Professionals
10th Jul, 2015

How To Create A Meaningful e-Learning Experience: 6 Tips For e-Learning Professionals

By Christopher Pappas

The more meaningful find the learners an e-Learning experience, the better becomes their knowledge retention. In this article, I'll share 6 effective tips to create meaningful e-Learning experiences that will make your audience to fully engage in your e-Learning courses and get the best out of it.

6 Tips To Create Meaningful e-Learning

Undoubtedly, there is a very common way to learn something: Repeat, repeat, and then repeat some more. But who wants to sit through a monotonous and tiring technique like rote learning, when learners are given the opportunity to deeply understand and quickly memorize a topic by relating it to knowledge already stored in their brains? This is exactly what meaningful e-Learning is about: The e-Learning process through which new knowledge emerges when a potentially meaningful concept or proposition is related to learners’ previous knowledge, so that they can successfully store it in their long term memory. It sounds ideal for e-Learning professionals, doesn’t it? In this article I’ll reveal 6 tips to create meaningful e-Learning courses, so that you will be able to offer your learners powerful, effective, and meaningful e-Learning experiences.

1. Keep your e-Learning objectives clear and your expectations realistic.

Meaningful e-Learning means meaningful e-Learning objectives. When learners are able to fully understand what is required of them, it is more likely to get engaged in the e-Learning process. However, asking your learners to master easier e-Learning objectives than they should be could have the opposite effect: If your learners feel that despite the fact that e-Learning objectives are too easy to be mastered, they are still unable to successfully complete the requirements of your e-Learning course, they may feel frustrated and this will prevent them from learning the e-Learning material provided. It is important to present specific e-Learning objectives and to explain clearly to your audience what exactly is expected of them, as well as how long it will take them to complete your e-Learning course.

Never forget that "meaning" is your key for success. Your learners need to know not only "what", but also "why". Carefully design your e-Learning course in order to motivate your audience. Explain each concept that is "what" to be learned, in order to help them understand and justify your explanation that is "why" to be learned, in order to help them apply the newly acquired knowledge to their personal or professional lives.

2. Follow a learner-centered approach.

Meeting different e-Learning needs has always been a challenge in the e-Learning industry, but there is a proven lifesaving solution for e-Learning professionals: a learner-centered e-Learning approach. Learners are more motivated to fully get involved into the e-Learning experience if they feel that it meets their own individual skills and levels of expertise. To create a meaningful e-Learning experience via a learner-centered approach, focus less on overloading your audience with information and more on increasing the relevancy of your e-Learning content. Provide your learners with e-Learning content they can apply directly to their lives or their jobs and encourage social interaction by integrating social media into your e-Learning course.

Finally, customize your e-Learning course in order to offer your audience variety in terms of accessibility. Some learners may prefer to access your e-Learning course from their mobile devices, though others feel more comfortable when using their laptops. By following a learner-centered approach you can accommodate all. This way, your e-Learning deliverable will be relevant to the personal and professional needs and goals of your audience and will offer them a meaningful e-Learning experience that engages them both intellectually and emotionally.

3. Address your learners' emotions.

Speaking of emotions, you may feel that your audience may not engage in your e-Learning course as much as expected or desired. In case of corporate learners, it is not uncommon to observe employees just waiting for their online training course to finish, so that they can go back to their offices and finish their work. This may indicate that your e-Learning course, no matter how beautifully designed, isn't effective enough. A possible reason is that your e-Learning course may lack elements that appeal to your learners' emotions. Emotions are key in e-Learning; they drive attention, which increases engagement, boosts motivation and enhances knowledge retention. An emotionally-driven e-Learning approach evokes positive emotions in learners and makes them feel involved with the subject matter. In order to inspire positive emotions to your audience, consider using affirmative language for the stories and scenarios of the e-Learning courses you develop, so that your e-Learning content becomes "a personal affair" for all learners.

Storytelling is a great way to stimulate emotions, but only when they can be directly related to the personal or professional experiences of your learners. Thus, always remember to keep your stories, scenarios and case studies relevant. In addition, another element that can play a big role in evoking your learners' emotions in instructional design is color.

Study the effects of colors in human psychology and use orange to communicate optimism, blue to create a calming effect, purple to stimulate imagination, and so on.

4. Use e-Learning interactivity.

Interactivity is a very popular e-Learning feature that greatly increases learners' motivation. But how exactly does it affect meaningful e-Learning? The answer is quite simple: by using interactive e-Learning activities, learners acquire a sense of meaningfulness over the e-Learning content, as they interact with it in a way that makes the most sense to them. Drag and drop interactions, multimedia elements and games, challenge learners to pay more attention and develop their critical thinking skills while having fun at the same time.

Furthermore, if they are able to experiment and explore different paths and outcomes, they feel more excited about the information they receive. Videos, audio and animations have the power to influence emotions and make your audience feel more connected.

In addition, games give them a sense of autonomy and provide them with the opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills through repetition and trial-and-error, that is by learning from their own mistakes in a risk-free environment. All in all, interactive activities can make the e-Learning experience particularly meaningful, while increasing at the same time learners' retention and engagement.

5. Present real world benefits.

There is little meaning in e-Learning if it doesn’t offer real world benefits. After all, it is almost impossible for learners to be interested in the e-Learning content if they cannot relate it to their personal or professional lives in some way. Be sure that your e-Learning material makes obvious to your learners the benefits of attending the e-Learning course, as far as its impact in their lives or their job performance are concerned. Use tangible ways to "pass" this message and choose case studies that connect to real world problems and challenges. Knowledge becomes meaningful only if it can be applied; otherwise, it will subconsciously be labeled as "useless tip of the day".

Give your corporate learners real problems to solve and encourage them to make connections between the e-Learning content and its practical application at work. Finally, stimulate the imagination of your audience by allowing them to make choices that lead to consequences. This way, they will be able to transform the dullest subject matter into a meaningful e-Learning experience and make the audience apply the newly acquired knowledge into their real lives.

6. Give and ask for feedback.

Last but not least, in order to create a meaningful e-Learning experience never underestimate the power of feedback. Feedback is particularly important for learners that are looking for meaning in your e-Learning course, because knowing their performance levels makes them feel more confident. Make sure you provide your audience with immediate and accurate feedback throughout your e-Learning course in order to let them know if their performance goals have been met and ensure that they remain engaged. Also, have in mind that feedback works both ways.

In order for you, as an e-Learning professional, to be able to provide your audience with a meaningful e-Learning experience, you need to know their needs, skills, and expertise levels. After all, it sounds difficult to develop an e-Learning deliverable if you don’t know exactly whom it addresses to. Thus, assess your audience often in order to be able to successfully use this data and adjust your e-Learning course accordingly to the specific needs of the audience you are addressing to. This is an easy way to create truly meaningful e-Learning experiences.

Now that you know how to create a meaningful e-Learning experience for your learners, you may be interested in some extra ways to enhance their learning motivation. Read the article 5 Tips To Enhance Motivation in e-Learning and find out how you can inspire your learners to eagerly experience your e-Learning deliverable.