Did you know that people unlock their phones up to 9 times every hour? If you find this hard to believe, then think about how often you grab your phone as you see a notification light up or hear your phone chime. You might also be surprised to hear that employees get interrupted every 5 minutes and people now lose concentration only after 8 seconds, which is less than the 9 second attention span of the average goldfish!
With the increased demands on employees, the ubiquity of information and the digital lifestyle, it’s no wonder that learner behaviour and their expectations of digital learning content has changed.
What does this mean for those of us who design learning?
1. Less is more
To highlight the need for reducing the training time, here’s another research finding that might interest you – 1% of a typical work week is all the time that employees have to focus on training and development. It’s therefore not surprising that when we mention the word ‘training’, we often hear ‘I don’t have time’.
- Speed, convenience, relevant objectives and quality information is important to the modern learner, so filter out the nice to knows from the need to knows.
- Break the learning into smaller bites, which the learner can access over a period of time. More information is likely to be absorbed and retained (and the learner will feel less overwhelmed) if the information isn’t delivered in one long sitting.
- Build breaks into the content where the learner is advised that if they need to take a break from the training, this is the right time to do so.
- For refresher training, insert the quiz at the start and from the quiz results, target the training only to specific areas of need.
- Think about how long you might watch a video for on your device before you swipe or click next. This also applies to today’s learners. Approximately 4 minutes in duration per video is cited to be the maximum optimal length of a video within eLearning content.
2. Involve the learner and make it interactive
Have you ever turned to YouTube for information? The modern learner expects to be provided the information to know exactly how to do something.
- Instead of pushing the information to the learner, engage and involve them by pulling the information from them. When appropriate, ask the learner a question before providing the relevant background information. Use the feedback to deliver the learning and the information.
- Scenarios are a great way of learning by doing. They aim to involve the learner by presenting them with a situation, upon which they are asked to make a decision, then they witness the consequences of their decision.
3. Create an intuitive design and user experience
Are you like me where sometimes you’re a little shocked if you see someone reading an actual book as you’re travelling to work? We’re a society of swipe across and up and down on our devices. We know how and when to swipe and how to close a lightbox. It’s intuitive. That’s how we should create our digital learning.
How much instruction text do we really need in our digital learning content? If it’s good design, the trigger or next action should be obvious, without the need for explicit or unnecessary instruction. Consider using navigational and instructional icons and designs that modern learners are familiar with, such as those that they use every day as they search for information on their phones.