10 Things That Learners Pay Attention To (And How to Use Them in eLearning)



Posted by Karla Gutierrez on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 @ 11:44 AM
Even more than other types of education, eLearning must struggle to attract learners’ attention: the Internet is full of distractions, and adult learners are both busier and more free to indulge in distractions. Helping students to pay attention is a primary concern of training professionals, so here are some optimal methods to win the attention game in eLearning.

1. Problem-solving.

Adult learners are almost always taking an eLearning course for a specific purpose rather than just for fun. Focus on giving them what they want: answers to their real-world problems. You should be able to put yourself in the learner’s position and answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” If you truly want to grab their attention, you’re going to need to have answers to this question specially. After all, people will pay much more attention to aspects they consider relevant to their own lives and past experiences.

Grab your learner’s attention instantly by presenting a problem that keeps them reading. Headlines are a good way to apply this strategy: present your lesson as a “How-to”, laying out clearly what problem the rest of the lesson or module will solve. Dominant headlines, especially when placed in the upper left corner, typically draw the eyes first. In fact, they also tend to capture attention faster than images. Make headlines meaningful to help your learners find the content they need easily. Keep them relevant, simple, concise and irresistible.

2. Comparisons.

Studies reveal the brain pays more attention to what’s new or different. It’s natural for people to get curious about something new, foreign, weird, unpredictable or different. When eLearning content is surprising or unexpected, ignoring it become impossible. According to Carmine Gallo’s blog “Why TED Talks Are Impossible to Resist”, experts in the subject explained that “Our brains are trained to look for something brilliant and new, something that stands out, something that looks delicious.”

To get your learners to pay attention for a long time, you need to keep giving them new things to think about, but obviously you don’t want to stray too far from the topic. Making a comparison, simile, or metaphor helps focus attention. Plus, if you refer to a familiar aspect of the learner’s life, they may find it easier to grasp your point.

3. Visuals.

A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words. People are naturally inclined to pay attention to images because they are easier to digest and faster to understand than large blocks of text.

Use an image to draw learners in and set the tone of the lesson, then use other visuals to add meaning to your words. Both showing and telling your message doubles its impact.

Also, start replacing long chunks of texts with relevant visuals. In fact, a Nielsen study finds users pay attention to “photos and other images that contain relevant information, but ignore fluffy pictures used to “jazz up” pages.”

4. Questions.

Questions invite someone to actively participate in learning rather than just passively absorb data. Asking a question encourages people to think and reflect about what they’re learning, which helps them not only retain more information but also learn strategies to use what they’ve learned. Plus, it feels good to solve a problem on your own.

5. Emotions.

Emotionally-charged stimuli capture people’s attention immediately. On top of that, the brain remembers an emotional experience better than anything else. In eLearning, you can make this work for you by encouraging emotional response. Many of these tools, such as compelling stories, videos, images, and visually engaging screens can evoke emotion; try to connect emotionally with learners, and they will learn more and better. Create shocking, impressive or surprising moments that grabs your learner’s attention right away.

6. Stories.

Storytelling is a natural human brain pattern: stories are better remembered, better understood, and simply more listened to than other forms of communication. If you craft your lesson into a simple narrative, people will be more likely to listen to the whole thing and much more likely to remember it later.

Try not to force the point too hard: people feel more engaged if they can come to their own conclusions. As the saying goes, “Show, don’t tell!”

Check out this presentation: How to Tell a Story So People Pay Attention

7. Contrast.

Are there any elements here that are in contrast to things that came before? The human brain asks this question on a regular basis. Its hardwired to look for contrast as if its survival depends on it. Truth is the brain will always pay more attention to things in contrast to other things.

Boredom, most of the time, is produced by stasis, so keep things moving to encourage learning. There’s no need to be too obvious about it; subtle changes of font can be more effective than switching the whole color scheme. The goal isn’t necessarily to be consciously noticed, but rather to focus the brain’s natural priorities.

8. Controversy.

There’s nothing like a small shock to get people’s attention, so start off your lesson with a fact, statistic, or statement that will startle readers. There’s no need to get too extreme, but leading with the most shocking information is a good way to grab attention. Hard measurements are ideal here, percentages and dollar values especially, to get people thinking. Rather than save your conclusion for the end, consider starting off with it, so people will want to know how you got there.

9. Brevity.

People, especially adult learners, are busy, and they’ll appreciate it if you make your information as easy as possible to skim. With so much information out there, skimming helps decide whether to put in the time to read the whole thing. What’s more, learners prefer shorter, bite-sized pieces of information because they cannot sustain attention on a task for an extended period without pause. That’s because of the ebb and flow of our energy. A study, in fact, revealed that the average attention span online is about 8 seconds.

Instead of spending 90 or more minutes taking a course, learners will enjoy consuming short, snappy yet meaningful content. Organization is key: headings and subheadings provide a clear outline. Also, keep paragraphs short and simple, with 3 to 4 sentences each and no unnecessary words.

10. Lists.

Numbered lists create a sequence of events, offer a mini-table of contents, and set an up-front expectation that adult learners find extremely attractive. Plus, lists help break down information into bite-sized chunks. They do as much to keep you organized as to keep the reader interested. In short:

Lists make it easier for readers to consume most of your content.
They discourage distraction and help readers make sense of your content quickly.
Provide a visual break for your learner.
Combine these strategies, and you will quickly see a dramatic increase in your eLearning effectiveness.

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This French tech school has no teachers, no books, no tuition — and it could change everything


PARIS — École 42 might be one of the most ambitious experiments in engineering education.

It has no teachers. No books. No MOOCs. No dorms, gyms, labs, or student centers. No tuition.

And yet it plans to turn out highly qualified, motivated software engineers, each of whom has gone through an intensive two- to three-year program designed to teach them everything they need to know to become outstanding programmers.

The school, housed in a former government building used to educate teachers (ironically enough), was started by Xavier Niel. The founder and majority owner of French ISP Free, Niel is a billionaire many times over. He’s not well known in the U.S., but here he is revered as one of the country’s great entrepreneurial successes in tech.

He is also irrepressibly upbeat, smiling and laughing almost nonstop for the hour that he led a tour through École 42 earlier this week. (Who wouldn’t be, with that much wealth? Yet I have met much more dour billionaires before.)

Niel started École 42 with a 70 million euro donation. He has no plans for it to make money, ever.

Within Reach: 6 Education Trends Driving Classroom Technology

Within Reach: 6 Education Trends Driving Classroom Technology

Predicting the future is difficult. But identifying elements of change in education today can provide clues for how things will develop in the near future.

The New Media Consortium’s annual Horizon Report, now in its sixth year, is set to release its 2014 findings later this summer. A preliminary report from the consortium, released May 20, identifies six trends that are driving technology in today’s K–12 schools, including flipped classrooms and the expansion of open learning platforms.

The findings are broken down by how soon their impact is expected to be felt in the classroom.

Within a year

Rethinking the role of teachers: The expansion of technological tools beyond the textbook learning environment is slowly reshaping teachers’ roles as guides and mentors, according to the report.

Shift to deep-learning approaches: Also known as real-life learning, or project-based learning, there is a growing trend toward connecting curriculum with real-life circumstances, giving context to everyday classroom exercises.

“The hope is that if learners can connect the course material with their own lives and their surrounding communities, then they will become more excited to learn and immerse themselves in the subject matter,” the report explains.

Within five years

Increasing focus on open content: One of the driving forces behind massive open online courses (MOOCs), open content encourages sharing information, including curricula, resources and learning materials, as well as instructional practices. According to the report, the goal of open content is to create a library of material that is “free of barriers to access, cultural sensitivities, sharing, and educational use.”

Increasing use of hybrid learning designs: As the Internet of Everything makes its way into K–12 classrooms, more teachers are leveraging students’ online skills by adopting teaching methods that use online components. Hybrid learning models, such as flipped classrooms, use the school day for group and project-based work, reserving after-school time studying instructional materials such as text and video.

More than five years

Rapid acceleration of intuitive technology: Technological barriers are breaking down with the simplification of interfaces, such as touch screen technologies and motion-sensing cameras. As those barriers continue to fall, new educational activities will be developed to heighten learning, according to the report.

Redesign of the traditional school day: The expansion of project- and challenge-based learning approaches are reshaping the roles of teachers, calling for school day setups that enable students to move from one learning activity to another more organically, according to the report. New approaches to the school day are being developed to better connect each class with its subject matter.

For more on these trends, check out the full preliminary report online.

Keep up with the latest tech trends in K–12: Sign up for our e-newsletter


5 Reasons Going Paperless Won’t Work – InformationWeek

Originally posted on Executive Training Dubai:

5 Reasons Going Paperless Won’t Work InformationWeek The reality is that, for most organizations, there are multiple places in their workflow where the analog meets the digital, and where technology still hasn’t been able to replace important…

Source: www.informationweek.com

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Government Reshuffle and its Impact on Skills, Employment and Economic Growth

Originally posted on Webflinch:


The last edition reported on Lord Adonis Growth Review, STEM skills and growth in the creative industries. This week the headlines focus on Local Growth Deals and the impact of the recent Government reshuffle on the skills, employment and growth agenda.

In terms of its impact on the skills, employment and growth agenda, the recent Government reshuffle saw Nicky Morgan replacing Michael Gove as Education Secretary. The Association of Colleges welcomed the appointment of Nicky Morgan “I know from meeting her over the last few years that she understands the significant contribution colleges make in educating over 800,000 16 to 18-year-olds”, said Martin Doel, Chief Executive of the AoC. Nick Boles has been appointed as Minister of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Education. NIACE welcomed the appointment of Nick Boles: “We are pleased that he will retain briefs in both…

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Will everything really calm down after Gove?

Originally posted on Scenes From The Battleground:

I was quoted in an article in the TES today:

Academies became a fixture of the school landscape under Mr Gove, with around 60 per cent of secondaries now independent of local authorities and the number of primary academies still growing. Free schools, too, are proliferating, and changes to league tables and accountability measures in general will continue. Newer reforms that are yet to be formalised, such as those to initial teacher training, appear more vulnerable to being watered down or shelved.

Not all teachers are in favour of a period of calm, however. Education blogger and classroom teacher Andrew Old said Ms Morgan should explore the reforms to teacher training, although he doubted that the changes would ultimately happen.

“The whole education bureaucracy is so complex; unless a politician has been paying attention for a very long time it is impossible for it not to fall apart”, Mr Old…

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The piper(s) may have gone, but the tune remains the same?

Originally posted on rethinking education, economy and society:

untitleddavid_willettsAs another difficult academic year draws to a close, it goes without saying that Michael Gove’s departure will be greeted euphorically by teachers and campaigners, particularly those who have focussed almost entirely on the ex-Secretary of State’s combative style, abrasive manner and other personal inadequacies.

He may continue play a key role ‘at the heart of government’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-28302487) and in maintaining  Tory Party discipline,  (somewhat ironic considering his own the recent spat with Home Secretary May) but Gove was becoming a liability for Cameron who has sought to restrict his public profile over recent weeks.  Also, with Gove at the helm, there’s been little chance of the long running teachers’ pay dispute being resolved. Strike action by teachers is not the cause of his departure,  but it’s  certainly been a contributory factor.

But it has to be said that one of Gove’s main projects  – making  exams more difficult…

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Protesters in legal bid to halt food college closure

Originally posted on David Martin - Daymar Law:

A Birmingham catering college facing closure after having its funding axed has pledged to take legal action against the Department for Education (DfE).

The Kajans Hospitality and Catering Studio, in Whitehead Road, Aston, was told it would no longer be supported by Government funds, even though school chiefs claim they have hit targets on pupil recruitment.

A legal fighting fund has been launched at a meeting of parents, staff, governors and community leaders to support a judicial review and put the funding cut on hold.

Angry parents and supporters have also been urged to write to Prime Minister David Cameron, Education Secretary Michael Gove and Schools Minister Lord Nash demanding they reverse the decision…

Birmingham Post (July 13th, 2014). To read more go to Protesters in legal bid to halt food college closure – Birmingham Post.

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Worcestershire apprentices celebrated in Apprenticeship Awards scheme

Originally posted on David Martin - Daymar Law:

APPRENTICES across the county can apply for the first Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards which celebrate their exceptional contributions to a company.

There are 12 awards up for grabs in the first Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Apprenticeship Awards which recognises top talent in the county.

Among them are five Worcestershire Apprenticeship Awards which recognise and celebrate the difference apprentices make to the workplace…

Worcester News (July 12th, 2014). To read more visit  Apprentices celebrated in Apprenticeship Awards scheme (From Worcester News).

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Apprenticeships programme ‘threatened’ by jobs cuts

Originally posted on David Martin - Daymar Law:

A Coalition drive to boost the number of apprenticeships was criticised today after it emerged that almost half of staff tasked with delivering courses in England are being cut.

Just months after the Government pledged to expand the number of on-the-job training places, it emerged that the number of staff tasked with driving the programme was being reduced by 47 per cent.

The move has been made as part of sweeping cutbacks in the civil service designed to save taxpayers’ money and reduce the deficit…

Telegraph (July 11th, 2014), To read more visit Apprenticeships programme ‘threatened’ by jobs cuts – Telegraph.

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Session 114 – How can we create a curriculum where all subjects are valued equally?



Session Title: How can we create a curriculum where all subjects are valued equally? Date: Thursday 6th September 2012 Hosted by: @SirBlimeyWindy

Summary of the Session:
A very wise head once told me ‘you can do what you like if it works’

Well, there’s nothing like a good, constructive debate, is there? One thing that made me chuckle from the outset was a cheeky tweet from @SparkyTeaching to the Secretary of State asking him if he was going to join in with the discussion – but that is not to say that I was expecting this to be a wholly political debate.

The problem as I saw it was that the ‘market’ and League Tables seem to pit one subject against another, whereas we should possibly try to encourage a full, all-round education. There was soon a tweet wondering whether the notion of ‘subjects’ should be scrapped and pupils be taught in a way that makes all subjects cross their artificially-set boundaries. @MrBDEvans pointed out that, only when the curriculum is viewed as a whole,and not seen as a series of subjects, will education succeed.

@MrPeel pointed out that the existence of League Tables with their emphasis on 5 A*- C inc Eng and Maths and the EBacc will compound and continue what he termed ‘educational apartheid’.

@Ilac3 also pointed out that we have to bear in mind that different students have different skills and abilities and this should be borne in mind.

Towards the halfway stage there was some agreement that the existence of judgements based on 16+ exam performance actually drove the perceived ‘inequality’ between subjects, and there were also some suggestions that a broad-based ‘Leaver’s Certificate’ and not GCSE might be the way to go to restore the balance to some degree.

Sir Ken Robinson was mentioned as well, by myself and others, and my attention was drawn to a speech he made on subjects <a href=”http://t.co/3oxrgA4m.


There was also a suggestion that, perhaps, education should be removed from the clutches of politicians, and that may lead to a system that can be trusted and valued.

I am sorry that I cannot include every single aspect from the chat, as that would lead to a 10000 word essay, please read the transcript and see what suggestions came up.

One thing shone through, though, that we as teachers are passionate about enabling pupils to achieve their best, and there are so many ways that we are, on the whole, successful, in spite of the way in which the profession is portrayed.

A book to make your question everything you thought you knew: the implications of Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow

Originally posted on Improving Teaching:

 An individual has been described by a neighbor as follow: “Steve is very shy and withdrawn, invariably helpful but with little interest in people or in the world of reality.  A meek and tidy soul, he has a need for order and structure.”
Is Steve more likely to be a librarian or a farmer?

‘System 1′ in our minds, seeking patterns and coherence, leads one intuitively to the stereotypical description of a librarian.  ‘System 2′: slower, more analytical, harder work, may invite one to consider that there are twenty times the number of men farming as working in libraries in America. Our comfortable reliance on System 1 was the first insight I gained from Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.  Reading the book, I noticed its lessons arising everywhere: in school, in supermarkets, in what I read.  Not having seen the book reviewed online however, I thought it might be useful to do…

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Session 59 – How can we change the mindset that it is not ‘cool’ to achieve in school?



Session Title:

How can we change the mindset that it is not ‘cool’ to achieve in school?

Session Summary:

This discussion aimed to deal with a situation that I am sure many of us have faced with children who are afraid to achieve because of how their peers will react and indeed how to deal with those children whole feel it is ok to bully others because of their achievements. Almost straight away the question was asked as to whether this was a discussion about praise or motivation and I responded that it was a bit of both. The discussion then moved on to the question of praise and more importantly how children react to praise. It became quite clear that children react to praise in different ways – some will love the public praise of an Achievement Assembly whereas others will dread these occasions. The point was made that praise and rewards need to be meaningful – we can over do stickers and certificates – and that the praise and reward that works for one age group can be completely ineffective for another. We also talked about who the praise comes from and how children can react completely to praise coming from outside school through tools such as blogs and Twitter. After the discussion I then came across this quote which I thought summed up this topic quite well – “We destroy the love of learning in children …by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty and contemptible rewards.” by John Holt.

The discussion then moved on to how to foster this love of learning and motivate children to want to achieve. We also looked at how to make low-ability children not feel threatened by the high achievers. Everyone agreed that every child achieves in some way and that all achievements, academic and non-academic should be praised. We also talked about how, as teachers, we have a responsibility to act as role models to show how much we enjoy learning and how we need to demonstrate our passion for whatever subject we teach. We discussed celebrating geekiness and how a teacher’s enthusiasm for their topic can be a very powerful motivational tool.