eLearning is a rapidly growing trend, with more and more people turning to the internet to acquire new knowledge and skills.
As per a study, the global eLearning market is expected to reach $325 billion by 2025.[i]
To unlock the secret sauce behind delivering captivating eLearning experiences, you need to decode the science behind eLearning.
In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the psychology of eLearning, factors contributing to effective learning, and more.
The Science Behind Online Learning: Decoding Sensation & Perception
Sensation and perception in online learning are like the ingredients of a recipe.
The ingredients (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) are the raw materials that we use to make the dish (knowledge). The cooking process (course design) is how we combine the ingredients to create a delicious and nutritious meal (learning experience).
In the context of video design, the ingredients could be the visuals, audios, and text that make up the video. The cooking process would be the way that these elements are combined to create a cohesive and engaging experience. Just like a good cook, an effective video designer knows how to use the right ingredients and cooking techniques to create a video that is both informative and entertaining.
Exploring the Factors That Foster Effective eLearning
Before exploring the nuances of the learning process, it’s essential to understand the key factors that influence how learners engage with educational content.
Here are some of the psychological factors that shape eLearning:
Learners with high self-efficacy are more likely to approach challenges with confidence and persevere in the face of difficulties. They believe that they can overcome obstacles and achieve their learning objectives easily, which leads to a more proactive and engaged learning experience.
For instance, a student with high self-efficacy in mathematics will approach math-related online courses with enthusiasm, making them more likely to seek help when needed and persist in solving complex problems.
Motivation is of two types: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation arises from internal factors such as personal interest, curiosity, and a desire to learn for the sake of learning itself.
On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is influenced by external rewards, such as grades, certifications, or career opportunities.
Both types of motivation can be powerful drivers for eLearning success.
For example, students intrinsically motivated to learn a foreign language may immerse themselves in online language courses and cultural experiences.
Simultaneously, students motivated by the prospect of a job promotion may diligently pursue professional development courses online to enhance their skills.
In eLearning, learners must sustain attention over a period of time to absorb course content effectively.
Selective attention enables learners to concentrate on specific elements, like understanding complex concepts or following step-by-step instructions.
Sustained attention is essential during lengthy lectures or in-depth reading materials.
For instance, in a self-paced online course, a learner with good attention skills can follow instructional videos, read course materials attentively, and actively engage in quizzes and exercises without losing focus.
Memory plays a pivotal role in the learning process as it involves the encoding, storing, and retrieval of information.
Short-term memory allows learners to hold and manipulate information in their minds for a short duration. For example, a learner may retain a phone number in their short-term memory while dialing it.
In contrast, long-term memory involves the consolidation of information over time, enabling learners to retain knowledge for an extended period.
Repeatedly reviewing course materials or utilizing mnemonic techniques helps transfer information from short-term to long-term memory.
Prior knowledge serves as a foundation upon which new information is built.
When learners possess relevant prior knowledge, they can make connections between what they already know and the new concepts, facilitating deeper comprehension.
However, prior knowledge can also influence the interpretation of new information. If learners hold misconceptions or outdated information, it may hinder accurate learning.
Educators must assess and address learners’ prior knowledge to create effective eLearning experiences.
Breaking Down Barriers to eLearning
Amidst the convenience lie certain cognitive challenges that learners may encounter in the eLearning environment.
Here are some challenges associated with eLearning:
Cognitive Load: Online courses often present a vast amount of information through various media, such as text, images, videos, and interactive elements. When presented with too much information at once, learners may struggle to process and retain it effectively.
Multitasking and Distractions: In the digital environment, learners may be tempted to multitask, such as checking emails or browsing social media while studying. It divides attention and hinders the ability to focus on the learning material.
Self-Regulation and Time Management: eLearning requires learners to take more responsibility for their learning progress and time management. Without a fixed schedule, some learners may procrastinate or struggle with setting aside dedicated study time.
Limited Feedback: In traditional classrooms, learners receive immediate feedback from instructors and peers, which aids in understanding and correcting mistakes. In eLearning, feedback may be delayed or limited, impacting learners’ ability to gauge their progress accurately.
Thriving in the Digital Classroom: Tackling eLearning Challenges
You can address the challenges by implementing various strategies and techniques to optimize the learning experience.
Here are some tips:
Chunking Information: Divide the content into smaller, manageable “chunks” or segments. This makes it easier for learners to process information and prevents cognitive overload. Each segment should focus on one key concept or topic.
Visuals and Graphics: Use relevant visuals, graphics, and animations to supplement the content. Visual aids can enhance understanding and retention while reducing the reliance on dense text.
Interactive Elements: Incorporate interactive elements like quizzes, drag-and-drop exercises, and clickable buttons to engage learners actively. Interactive elements keep learners focused and involved in the learning process.
Microlearning Approach: Consider adopting a microlearning approach by creating short, bite-sized videos focused on specific learning objectives. This encourages learners to consume content in short bursts, which aligns well with their attention spans.
Provide Closed Captions: Include closed captions in the videos to accommodate learners who prefer reading the content or may have hearing impairments. This enhances accessibility and ensures that learners can absorb the information effectively.
In the complex and multifaceted world of online learning, understanding the key psychological factors that influence learner engagement is crucial. Educators hold the power to design eLearning experiences that are not only effective but also highly engaging.
By addressing the cognitive challenges associated with eLearning, learners can thrive in the digital classroom and achieve their learning goals confidently.
Through a thoughtful approach that considers cognitive load, distractions, time management, and limited feedback, educators can unlock the true potential of online learning, making it a transformative and enriching experience for all.
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