How Long Should Your Elearning Be?

How Long Should Your Elearning Be?

If your eLearning course fails to capture the attention of the learner within the first few seconds, you could lose them for good. This can spell disaster to any specific training outcomes that you wish to achieve. This is also the reason that there has been much debate concerning the most efficient length of a course.

The fact is that eLearning is now having to fight more than ever for the attention of learners. To illustrate this The Center For Teaching and Learning at Brigham Young University states that

“Brain attention span is about 7-10 minutes. That is to say, the brain will lose focus unless its attention is recaptured every 7-10 minutes.”

Attention spans become shorter still when information is being presented on a screen rather than in-person. This is exactly why most promotional videos on the web are 3 minutes or less. Any longer and viewer’s attention is lost.

Different Approaches To Address Attention Span

In order to address the problem of brief learner attention span, several approaches have been developed that present eLearning information in a shorter manner.

  1. Rapid Elearning

    Rapid eLearning is a popular methodology in which to address deficient employee attention span. It takes relevant information, distills it down to bit size pieces presented in slide format and adds a testing component at the end. While this certainly does wonders to ensure that the learner receives information swiftly, it fails to completely address the problem.  Specifically, it misses the target when attempting to create context or illustrate to the learner the reason why the information is important. Although information is rapidly presented, more often than not that knowledge is just as quickly forgotten.

  2. “Chunking”

    A much more sound idea is to keep the crucial information in the course but divide it up logically into modules. Once this is done, knowledge checks are then provided throughout the module or at the end of the module in order to reinforce the information. This accomplishes a number of things. Firstly, no important knowledge is left out. Secondly, it keeps the attention of the learner by presenting the total sum of information in smaller pieces. While the total length of the course may be longer than the rapid elearning approach, no information is lost.

  3. Scenarios

    If you take Chunking and add role-playing element to it, not only do you increase the engagement of the learner, you make the course instantly relatable. The learners are now “doing” rather than “viewing”. They are instantly transported into a situation they recognize and benefit from information they can immediately use following the course.

How Long?

When addressing shortened attention spans there is standard ideal module length — seven minutes. Each module should be goal-oriented. The goal being what you want the learner to get out of this particular section. While some methodologies recognize shortened attention spans, they don’t recognize knowledge retention or help to meet learning goals.

When addressing shortened employee attention span, it’s crucial to pass on all the knowledge available while keeping them interested.  When achieving this, you cannot take shortcuts or information will be lost. However, while you can’t cut corners, you can slice up the whole of the information into easily digestible seven to twenty minute modules that will go down easy and stick with the learner.

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