Keeping Your Learners’ Attention: How Our Brain Decides What to Focus On

A common concern arises when the topic of elearning comes up. Have you ever heard, or thought to yourself, “I find it hard to stay focused when taking an online course” or, “Is it easier to learn in a traditional classroom?”. These thoughts can be true for some, but if elearning is presented effectively, with the learner’s attention span in mind, we can see a shift in this ideology.

 

Elearning can be difficult for some learners because we become distracted by email prompts or app notifications on our devices. To curb learners from being distracted, elearning needs to be designed to grasp the learner’s attention. But how? Candy Crush is calling our name…

 

In John Medina’s book, Brain Rules, we learn how the brain works. His book inspires much of the work we do at Learnkit to maintain the attention of our learning audience.  In order to keep a learner engaged, we need to explore how the learner pays attention. Attention is built on three components: memory, interest, and awareness.  This blog will explore each component and evaluate how incorporating each theory can benefit a learner’s elearning experience.

 

 

Memory:

Your previous experiences enable you to pay attention to new experiences, such as learning material. Did you notice there was a question at the beginning of this blog to trigger your memory? By doing this, you are able to recall a past experience and apply it to the rest of this article. Applying memory as a trigger can be done in various ways. A learner will maintain attentive if the content they are consuming relates to their past experiences.

 

 

 

Interest:

Gaining the audience’s interest is a perfect way to maintain attention, which may sound very obvious, but can be hard to do. By offering a hook or something distinctive will cause attention to the subject. May not have expected a reference to Candy Crush at the start of the article, did you? Gaining the audience’s interest is a perfect way to maintain attention, which may sound very obvious, but can be hard to do. By offering a hook or something distinctive will cause attention to the subject. May not have expected a reference to Candy Crush at the start of the article, did you?

 

 

 

Awareness:

In order for someone to be attentive, they must be aware of what is happening. The human brain has spotlights that switch our attention based on triggers sent from our senses.  To enable a learner’s attention, it is important to activate awareness to the subject matter. Interactive activities, voiceover, and visual representations can ensure the learner is attentive to the learning material.

 

Now that we have covered the 3 ways to elicit attention, memory, interest and awareness, it is valuable to understand how to maintain it in elearning modules.

Multitasking doesn’t exist.

We pride ourselves in our ability to multitask, such as walking and texting, or talking on the phone while driving. But the reality is, the brain cannot multitask. The human brain is a sequential processor, which means it can only focus on one task at a time. We actually take more time to react to a task, if we are engaged with another. How do we apply this to elearning methods?

Solution? Batch Content!

The best solution is to batch content in an easy to understand format. Our brains are wired in a way that we can maintain attention for only 10 minutes.  Within the content, it is important to provide a trigger to pull on your learner’s previous experience, or memory. Use a hook to gain the interest of your learner. To maintain their attention for the short segment, create a scope and depth in your content to generate awareness.

 

By understanding these facts about the brain, the learner will have an optimal learning experience.

 

Curious to learn more about how we build this into our elearning modules? Book a time to talk to us and we will walk you through a personalized demo of how we use our modern pedagogy to maximize learning and retention in our elearning solutions.

 

Shorten on-the-hob training time & costs

Francesca Piacente

Francesca Piacente

Elearning Project Leader at Learnkit
Learnkit works with industry leading businesses and top academic institutions to create innovative custom elearning that delivers measurable, real world results
Francesca Piacente
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