Face-to-face training, by its nature, is highly personable. Learners respond well to trainers who inject their training with lots of personality, making the learning experience more enjoyable. Some of the best trainers bring learning to life with humour, real-life stories and a friendly face. Can this be carried across into eLearning?
YES it can! With a little effort, you can create eLearning courses that are personable and engaging. In this post I will look at three simple ways to give your online courses personality.
Tip 1: Feature a Main Character
Include a character who guides the learner through the course. This person sets a friendly tone from the start. It is best to introduce her or him early in the course, preferably on the welcome screen. Give the person a name, a job role and any other information that makes it easier for learners to relate to. Bring the character in every few screens, especially at the start of each new section and on the final screen. In the same way that a face-to-face trainer encourages students to keep going, your online character comes into the course from time to time with positive comments and encouragement. For example they can introduce a test, and then appear again on the Results screen, offering Congratulations to the learners when they pass the test.
Tip: Look for stock images that feature the one person in a range of poses and contexts. Try not to use the same pose more than once.
Tip 2: Bring in Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
Let’s say you are designing a course for the Sales Division of a large company. You could ask the Sales Manager to record the narration for the course. Another option is to insert a photo of the Sales Manager into the Presenter Panel of the Articulate player (see the example). Articulate let’s you use more than one presenter in a single course so you can feature two or more SMEs. Before publishing, just remember to go to Slide Properties and select the presenter you want for each screen
Tip: Before asking an SME to record narration, make sure their voice is suitable (e.g. clear, pleasant).
Tip 3: Make Them Laugh
Face to face trainers use humour to get the attention of students. You can do the same with online courses. If appropriate, you could break up the course content with some light relief such as an amusing anecdote, a clever quote, a funny video or a surprising image. In this example from a Marketing course, I tried to find a visual related to Channels of Distribution, but not in the most obvious way. Hopefully the learners found it amusing.
Tip: Always make sure the use of humour is appropriate to the context of the course. If you are designing an eLearning course for a client, ask them about the tone they would like—conversational, formal, informal? This will help you determine how much lighthearted material to bring into the course.
These three tips are just for starters. There are plenty of other ways to bring personality into your eLearning courses. With a little effort, you can make the learning experience a far more enjoyable one for learners.