Why Watching TV Can Help You Improve Your Online Course Development

Why Watching TV Can Help You Improve Your Online Course Development

Online course development that engages and entertains your learners can be difficult to create if you don’’t take into account the possibilities the medium has to offer. Custom elearning developers can learn a lot from simply watching TV and observing why people watch the programs that they watch.

Whether it is a favorite sitcom, a sporting event, a crime show, a drama, etc., ultimately you will be able to distill their reasons into one or both of two categories.

  1. Entertainment value
  2. Engagement level

The more you are entertained the more you watch. The higher the level of engagement, the more you watch. Conversely, if you are neither entertained nor engaged, you don’t watch. You might watch the first ten minutes of a program but, if it does not hold your attention, more than likely you will quickly jump to the next option. Similarly, if a learner begins an elearning course but is neither engaged nor entertained, they are unlikely to finish the course unless they are required to do so. Word of caution–”required to do so” can be a trap. For instance, to become certified as proficient in a skill, a pedestrian elearning course may only require you to memorize some data points and hold them in memory for a short period of time; however, if you are not really engaged or entertained, the knowledge or skill “learned” from the course will not be as deeply imbedded as it otherwise could be.

“Boring Is A Recipe For Failure”

In other words, just as in television, boring is a recipe for failure. While this is obvious, most elearning courses produced today are boring, don’t get completed by a majority of trainees and ultimately fail. More often than not the elearning developer and the responsible trainer are not invited to create more courses.

“Even the most popular programs don’t capture 100% of the market”

Then again, there is more to be gained by analyzing TV watching behavior. For instance, even the most popular programs don’t capture 100% of the market. The reason for this is that human beings are not all engaged or entertained by the same subject matter or presentation style. Custom e-learning developers should, therefore, keep that in mind when building elearning courses — not all trainees will be the same kind of learner; for instance some will be kinesthetic, auditory or visual or some combination thereof.

We’re not advocating that you try to create a universal fit for your elearning courses (you simply cannot please everyone) but we strongly believe you should:

  • know your learners at as deep a level as possible,
  • entertain them while you train them and
  • engage them to keep them.

We are not advocating that you need a big loan to create effective elearning. Consider the scores of TV programs that were or are relatively low budget but that developed legions of followers that hated to miss even a single episode. Reflect on the success of the 21st century known as reality programs, i.e., Survivor or The Amazing Race — market research tells us that those viewers are emotionally invested in their favorite contestant(s). Think about the people that literally interact (think yelling) with the TV during a hotly contested sporting event; those people are not just entertained — they are very very engaged!

So next time you are watching your favorite program, pay just a little more attention to why you have chosen to watch. Acknowledge the engagement level and the entertainment value. Now apply those ideas to your custom elearning development. Let them be a part of your instructional design and you will produce elearning courses that people want to take, that people complete and that generate a much higher ROI on your training dollars.

Elearning that is entertaining and engaging wins. Those elearning courses stimulate the learner to the point that they are wanting more courses from that developer/trainer, and they want those courses sooner than later.

For more on how to create winning elearning courses, please read our ebook, How to Create Performance Based eLearning.

Image Credit: James Vaughan

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