As Neil recently pointed out in his blog, learners have changed, and their learning preferences have changed. The question then becomes, how do you develop courses that will engage, stimulate, educate and excite the modern learner?

Here are some course design tips we thought you might find helpful:

  • Make it bite-sized. Over-loaded schedules and frequent interruptions makes time for continuing education a luxury. Providing learning in bite-sized chunks will help your learners get key points or tips that they can immediately apply to their professional practice. If accrediting bodies require certain course durations for certification, be sure to build in a fast-paced review of pertinent points. The faster pace can create the feel of bite-sized learning and help refocus distracted learners.
  • Offer it on-demand. If you’ve got a live webinar or webcast, make sure to offer an on-demand version of it. That way people who can’t attend the live event can access it later. Creating both an on-demand audio/video course, as well as a podcast of the event, will meet a wider variety of learning styles and accommodate the need to provide convenient options for your learner.
  • Keep it interactive. As Hermann Ebbinghaus, a pioneer in the study of memory discovered, within a month we forget 90% of what we learn unless we apply and master it. So even if you followed Tip 1 and presented bite-sized learning or longer courses with bite-sized reviews, there’s a good chance your learners will quickly start to forget the content. Combat that tendency by introducing interactive elements to your course such as quizzes that require learners to apply their knowledge and take a more active role in the course.
  • Think long-term. Most of you have long relationships with your learners. Whether they are valued employees who look to you for on-the-job training, or respected association members who rely on your continuing education to maintain their certification, your role is to provide opportunity for continuous learning and constant growth. So make sure your training and education programs offer a variety of courses to meet the needs of new-comers to the field, as well as experts looking to expand their knowledge in niche areas. Also consider building in a clear course progression, so learners know which course to take next to further develop their knowledge of a topic.

As the old saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Stop trying to combat competing demands, constant disruptions and short attentions spans. Embrace the challenge and utilize the tips above to engage modern learners in more effective ways.