More people are engaging with online education than ever before.
In fact, Research and Markets forecast that the e-learning industry will grow to $325 billion by 2025.
But the ways that people learn are constantly changing, and the industry needs to keep up with the modern learner.
Today, many learners are from generation Y or Z (to us humans, that’s everything from 9–39yrs old). That means they’ve grown up using the internet. They had access to it in school and aren’t shy when it comes to experimenting with the latest technology. Even the older generation of learners are tech-savvy. The modern learner has new priorities and needs, that many education platforms and programs simply don’t cater for.
You’re competing for attention with the likes of Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, so an effortless user experience is key. People want learning to be simple, interactive and engaging. It needs to fit seamlessly into their lives, which means it needs to be accessible anywhere, any time. Learners want to connect and collaborate with their peers, and to feel like they’re part of a community. As consumers, we expect greater levels of personalisation and that’s the same with online learning. It should be tailored and designed to help people reach their individual goals. e-Learning should be fun and rewarding, but most importantly, it should be effective. It’s got to hold people’s attention and be able to teach lessons, that go in — and stay in.
Start with a question.
A teacher can ask up to 400 questions a day. Why? Because questions get students thinking.
It encourages them to draw upon their own knowledge rather than simply being spoon-fed information. Asking a question creates a short pause that builds an element of intrigue. It means the next thing you say, or show, is an interesting reveal that people are more likely to engage with.
World-famous TED Talks offer inspirational and educational presentations, and are streamed more than 2 million times per day. But, what makes them so popular is not just the speakers and their stories, but their format. TED Talks are capped at 18 minutes long. TED curator, Chris Anderson says “[18 minutes] is long enough to be serious and short enough to hold people’s attention. It turns out that this length also works incredibly well online.” This means content creators need to prioritise thinking about the message they want to get across, and how to achieve this quickly, memorably and concisely.
Learning is difficult, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Language-learning platform Duolingo keeps it’s 200 million users captivated by making education as enjoyable as gaming. Using points, rewards and playful design, Duolingo have created an effective — and addictive — learning platform. People are far more likely to engage with content and keep coming back for more when they’re immersed in tasks and challenges.
Whether you’re reading a textbook or taking an online course, learning can often feel like a tedious, repetitive task. Page after page. Chapter after chapter. Try to consider the overall experience and inject a little flow into the narrative. Think about how BBC Teach, an educational series on YouTube, take advantage of the autoplay feature on the platform to keep audiences moving through their playlists. It still gives users the control to pause or skip chapters, but if they do want to continue, it offers a more natural and effortless experience.
Even global learning platforms need to have content that’s relatable to each market. Whether it’s the curriculum or simply the style of the delivery, it’s got to resonate with your audience. We partnered with Facebook to build the Learn with Facebook platform and developed the content to specifically meet the needs of every individual market. It introduces local Facebook representatives who offer their unique perspective on certain on topics and has case studies and personal stories from local experts who can contribute real-life, local advice.
If you’re creating educational content, always think of the modern learner first. Understand how, where and when they like to learn and then apply your curriculum to that insight.
And when it comes to creating your content, focus on engagement. Ask questions, keep it short and snappy, be playful, consider the flow and if possible, make it localised. This will not only encourage people to complete your course, but it will genuinely help them remember the important lessons.
Now is the perfect time to push the boundaries of online learning. Content creators should learn from the latest social media trends and see how far we can go in using creative technology to serve educational content. It’s a valuable area to explore and one that will not only benefit the learner, but also the e-Learning industry.