Elearning design needs to engage and persuade the learner to know how to engage with the content and learning. Dr. Laurie Korte talks about e-learning design that engages learners and common mistakes of e-learning and blended learning classrooms.
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Elearning Engagement: Persuasive Design Strategies
Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e283
Date: April 4, 2018
Vicki: Today we’re talking with Dr. Laurie Korte about Persuasive Design, and these are strategies for eLearning engagement.
So what is Persuasive Design?
Laurie: Persuasive Design is a set of strategies that guides the learner through a digital learning environment by reducing stress, personalizing it, tailoring it to the individual, giving them suggestions throughout. It takes the stress away from their learning environment.
Vicki: So, I know a lot of kids who take online classes and that sort of thing. And so many of them just feel lost!
Laurie: Well, if you think about it, a lot of online classrooms are a rather jarring experience. When students first get to it, it’s not anything like what they see in Netflix, what they see in Amazon, what they see in games.
A lot of times, a Learning Management System, where their online classroom can seem generic, and antiquated and stressful.
So this is a way to reconsider or re-imagine how you design. What is your intent for this learning environment? It shouldn’t be just about throwing resources out there, or a place for them to go for a quiz. It should be as engaging as other areas on the internet.
Re-imagine how you design
They should want to come back. They should want to be there. They shouldn’t want to run away.
Vicki: But you know, so many teachers, you know, they’re trained in their content area. And now it’s almost like they’re a web designer.
I mean, as I work in my Learning Management System, I’m always thinking about usability and are they finding things, and it’s kind of like a little bit of a web hat versus a content hat.
I mean, how are most teachers handling that?
Are teachers supposed to know how to design an eLearning space?
Laurie: I think if they look at it in how they spend time setting up their classroom, their physical classroom. A lot of teachers will spend a week or more before school starts, creating the environment for their users.
They need to look at their online classroom the same way, and not just as a chore, because that’s exactly how students will look at it if they treat it like a chore.
It needs ro be designed just the same way that their physical classroom is designed. So it’s got the resources they need. It’s got the suggestions to go get help where they need. It doesn’t have a lot of extra stuff in it. It’s only got the stuff that’s going to relate to their learning.
Vicki: So what are some tips to create that kind of Persuasive Design environment?
I mean, is there a strategy or two you can share?
Laurie: Actually, Persuasive Design is seven strategies total.
The first one, which I think is definitely the most important one, is Reduction.
Reduction is the most important strategy in Persuasive Design
A lot of times, learners have to search and find and jump through hoops or different clicks to find what they need to learn what they’re in there for.
And that’s frustrating. You need to eliminate those frustrations. Reduce the cognitive load so they don’t have as much to look through.
One of our rules is the Tootsie Pop Rule. “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?”
Laurie: How many clicks should it take for them to get to the center of their learning?
Vicki: Well, I think one. But is three is more practical?
Laurie: Yeah. Well, if it’s three, that’s pretty good. If it’s more than three, then they’re getting frustrated. There are too many obstacles in the way.
Vicki: Yeah. You know, my son has an online class, and they had some of the rubrics hidden one place, and then they had the assignments.
But they didn’t give you the rubrics until you actually turned in the assignment. And there were several times where we completely misunderstood what the teacher was asking for.
And I’m a technology teacher, and this was a technology class! And I’m sitting here, like, “I know I’m not doing it for him, but I was certainly giving him advice. But I felt completely lost as to what the teacher wanted. Completely lost.
Laurie: Well, and unfortunately, if a learner experiences that, they’re not in the physical classroom. What do you do? Where do you go?
Vicki: They don’t go anywhere. They just…
Laurie: They keep clicking and clicking and trying to find it… I mean, I think it’s intrinsic motivation. Kids want to do what the teacher is hoping they will get. You know, it’s that “please the teacher” kind of mentality. So they’ll want to, and they’ll keep clicking around. We have to provide them the environment that best serves what they need to learn.
So, for instance, in online classes, I’m sure you’ve seen this. There’s a lot of topic blocks all the way down and everything is showing. Why does every piece of content need to be showing?
Does every piece of content need to be showing? Probably not.
Vicki: Oh, yes.
Laurie: And most platforms, you click to make things invisible until the teacher releases the. But a lot of times, they just don’t. And again, that’s only one click for the teacher, to make that happen.
Another item is — you know how in online learning, there’s blocks on the side for resources, for form searching, for all sorts of just blocks. Are they all necessary, all the time?
Laurie: Or can we get rid of them from a site administrator point of view? Why do they all have to be in every single course?
I know that gets set up as a default a lot. Maybe you could set some sort of course design policy where, “OK, these are recommended and then based on if you're doing certain delivery of content, these are suggested.”
Vicki: Yeah, if you don’t use it, lose it. I mean, just get rid of it, because I’ve seen kids in online courses just clicking and clicking and clicking and clicking. And then, you’re right. Sometimes stuff is there, and then they realize they’ve done an assignment that’s due in eight weeks, and they did it this week. You know, it just shouldn’t be that hard.
Laurie: Exactly. I agree.
Vicki: Excellent. Do you have another strategy for us?
Laurie: Let’s see. How about the fact that in a teacher's classroom, students are always greeted when they come in. You know,”Hi Sally! Hi Jimmy! Hi Whoever!”
That doesn’t occur in an online environment.
Personalize the online environment to address the learner by name
Laurie: And there are tools now, if you think about it, when you go to Amazon, you log in. You’re greeted. Netflix, you log in, you’re greeted. The technology’s out there.
I bet if you asked on your platform, whoever designed it or whoever puts it together, there are plugins available to personalize the learning on your site. So when a user logs in, and they get to the course they’re going to start with, maybe there’s a welcome message. That plugin or that thing that maybe the teacher didn’t know existed before. But if you think about it, it does exist, like I said on Netflix, on all these other sites are using that technology. Find out if you can put it on your platform and how to use it, because you’re going to make students want to show up if they’re addressed by name. And you can just plug it in.
Vicki: Yeah. I think about my sister, who is a professor for Savannah College of Art and Design. She teaches online and gets all these great ratings. And she’s often in there in the chat, and greeting people, and interacting, and setting appointments. They know there’s a real person there that they’re interacting within the course, but, so we’ve got all these design things, but do you think that sometimes, Laurie, that when a class has 200 or 300 kids in an online class, that that could make this difficult?
Laurie: No, I think if you set it up… because everything in technology makes it easier. So if you find the right plugin, or you find the rhythm that you need to be consistent in that, it becomes easier.
But I think the obstacle is in just getting to that point. Find out if there is a plugin. Find out, OK, in your forums. Rather than answering it, whatever happened to actually saying the person’s name when you greet them?
Laurie: Add those little elements. Quizzes area great example.
You know how, in a quiz, when they get it wrong or right, there’s a place where you can out feedback?
Laurie: It’s just defaulted to just saying, “Correct” or “Incorrect.” That’s it. Well, what if you — in the answer to that question, if they get it wrong, suggest that they go back to an exact, specific point in the course… instead of just, “You’re wrong.”
Vicki: And actually give them a hyperlink, right?
Laurie: Exactly! I mean, it’s a little thing, when you set up a quiz, you can inject that in the response in the feedback, and it’s good forever, because online, you just copy the course, you copy the quiz, you choose your questions. But if you start setting it up, take those little steps, it’s going to make a huge difference down the line.
Vicki: So, Laurie, so many of us have blended classrooms, you’ve also got eLearning teachers. Where do we get started? So you’ve got Persuasive Design strategies. Where do we go to learn more of these strategies?
Where did Persuasive Design come from?
Laurie: The president of Remote Learner, Dr. Page Chen, did her research on this.
She used B.J. Fogg, who wrote about persuasive technology, but it was more geared toward how media is turning it into to the way to engage participants.
She did her research on captology, which is computers as persuasion.
Vicki: Hmmm. So we’re persuading the learners to really engage with the course and be able to find what they need to do and to engage with the content and not have to sit there and struggle.
Laurie: Exactly. So think about ways to set things up a little differently.
Find out what additional tools are in your toolkit that you haven’t tapped or haven’t discovered. There are probably quite a few on lots and lots of platforms, so again, it’s not so much about the platforms that I use, but I know they’re on tons of platforms. (laughs)
Vicki: Yeah, and you know, if you’re in a face-to-face class — and I have a blended classroom — a lot of times I’ll look over the shoulder of my students and watch what they’re doing, and watch them using the site, and realize…
Because I actually several months ago, started hiding everything except just what we’re on right now, and the older activities, so if they’re out with the flu, they can actually go back and get it. But just what we need. And hiding everything else. And they’re just not as confused. There are many examples here that really made a lot of sense.
Do check the Shownotes for resources and information that we will be linking to.
Remember that when we’re designing eLearning that we do need to focus just as much on that eLearning platform as we do in our physical classroom.
Laurie: You’re welcome! Thanks for having me.
Contact us about the show: https://www.coolcatteacher.com/contact/
Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford firstname.lastname@example.org
Bio as submitted
Dr. Laurie Korte is an eLearning professional and performance-minded expert focused on helping others strategically increase eLearning engagement. With a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science and a Ph.D. in Education specializing in Educational Technology, she’s built a reputation for understanding how people connect with technology to learn. Her diverse roles which have included Moodle consultant, curriculum designer, adjunct professor, technology integration specialist, and more, reflect the breadth of her expertise. In her current role as a Solution Architect at Remote-Learner, she uses her knowledge to help ensure a smooth delivery of eLearning, collaboratively seeking to increase value and engagement opportunities.
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