Let’s say you have boring, but important, content.
It’s dry and not inherently interesting… and there’s a lot of it.
You try to make something fun, but it immediately dissolves into death-by-PowerPoint nonsense.
What do you do?
First, I’d shake those assumptions.
There’s no such thing as boring content, because ‘boring’ isn’t a real thing. Boredom is – it’s a reaction to something someone doesn’t find engaging.
Nothing in this world is boring to everyone.
That means there’s someone out there who’ll find your content fun.
Does that help you if most folks find it boring? Maybe not, but it’ll stop you seeing it as a hopeless, uphill battle.
The problem isn’t in the subject matter or the details you have to teach.
It’s in the delivery.
Luckily, there are three easy ways to make your eLearning more engaging… no matter how tedious your learners expect it to be.
You can incorporate these into any course – even if it’s as low-tech as a text-only forum.
It won’t add much (if any) to the time it takes to deliver.
And it’ll make your course work for your learners.
Sound too good to be true?
Like always, there’s a catch – it might take some deep thinking and a little work to implement these.
Okay, here we go:
The first and least powerful of the three is contrast.
All the best course designers know throwing a wall of text at your learners is a mistake.
But sometimes you have a lot of content you want to get across.
If you have to use this approach and can’t think of a way around it, change what your learners look at.
After a wall of text, the next slide/page/whatever could be a simple diagram.
Or a graph.
Or a chart, table (without too many words) or meme.
If each slide looks different, it can keep your readers engaged, even as you bombard them with a firehose of information.
Like I said, this is the weakest approach of the three… but it sure beats giving them nothing but endless paragraphs to read.
On to approach #2:
If you hate your content, you might be tempted to say something like:
“I know it’s Friday and I’m really sorry about this, but I have to read from the textbook. It’ll be boring but in order to certify you, with have to cover all of these points. Sorry.”
That’s why I told you to stop thinking about your content as boring. This awful delivery helps no one.
Instead, you could say:
“Welcome to the best part of the week, everyone! You have your textbooks in front of you, which have all the answers you’ll need in the future. Today, I’m going to go over a few of the more relevant parts for you. And who knows, we might just finish early and get a head start on the weekend!”
Same content, huge difference.
That’s why the second approach involves enthusiasm.
How do you get your dog excited?
By talking about its favourite treats – that is, focus on the content?
No – you could talk about anything with enthusiasm and they’ll like it.
I’m not saying your learners are only as smart as dogs. But humans and dogs get bored or interested in the same way as each other. If something doesn’t spark emotion in you, it’s clearly not worth paying attention to.
Do your learners a favour and show a little passion.
I’m sure you know about the curve of forgetting – that graph that shows a week after your course, your learners will forget 90% of what you told them.
That research is true but it’s not the full story.
To test that, researchers got people to memorise dry facts – usually a list of random words.
But not all content is created equal.
Stories are highly memorable.
They’re more engaging to the brain and they help your learners contextualise the information. When you go into a case study of how someone used what you’re teaching them to make a billion dollars, they’re better able to remember and apply what you tell them.
Case studies, war stories, anecdotes – any of them will make your material fun and memorable.
I don’t care if you only teach over Twitter – you can use these three approaches to make even the most boring content fun.
This is one small part of my eLearning philosophy. With my Fun, Friends and Flexibility model, you can use 12 powerful principles to make any learning, in any medium, more engaging and effective.