The 10 Second Rule in E-Learning

You have great content. You know your stuff inside and out. You are a good presenter. So, why are people not consuming your on-line learning or staying until the end?

Before I dove into designing my E-learning I checked out what was out there to get some examples. I started watching a 10-minute video straight to camera and what happened next shocked me. The content was great. The speaker knew her stuff and the background setting in her video was nice. But, after a few minutes, I got bored and wanted to move on. There was nothing new in the picture. That’s when I knew that the landscape of on-line learning had changed. And, if I didn’t get on that bandwagon I would be left behind.

If there is one thing I learned after designing, developing and rolling out E-Learning courses for my corporate market, it is this:

If you do not keep the learner engaged at least every 10 seconds you lose them.

I know – sounds crazy! But, attention spans are at all time low. Today, you are lucky to keep people on a video for more than 5 minutes. The average length of stay for videos is at about 1 minute 30 seconds.

So, given this rapid change in attention spans, the desire for instant gratification and the millions of things competing for our attention, how on earth can you keep your on-line learning engaging so people stay on for 10-15 minutes?

Here are 7 lessons I learned from my clients as I rolled out my E-Learning:

  1. Keep each module of learning under 15 minutes. 7-10 minutes is ideal. If the learning is in the form of tips and tricks keep it between 1-3 minutes.
  2. Make sure there is a “state-change” at least every 10 seconds. The talking head without anything else on the screen no longer flies! (That’s why whiteboarding videos work so well – they are specifically setup so that you have to stay to watch the text play out on the screen – there is a clear psychology behind it.)
  3. Only 20% of your audience is auditory learners. The other 40% are visual and another 40% are kinesthetic and most share more than one style. Just because you are an auditory learner doesn’t mean your audience is. Include visuals in your e-learning that move every few seconds and enhances your audio. This could be stock video; creating video or using animated slides with images and text.
  4. Images AND text are an important combination as Visual learners lock in the learning when they are able to associate text with images.
  5. You’ve also got to appeal to the kinesthetic learner. Every few minutes it’s critical to engage the learner in an interactive on-line exercises – a quiz, fill in the blank, match-up or simulation – something they can physically click or enter info into. This will not only keep the learner engaged, it will lock in the learning because they are now doing the thinking for themselves.
  6. Don’t just put interactive quizzes or interactive exercises at the end of your module. The learner may not even be engaged to stay to the part that is actually engaging. They’ve got to be interspersed throughout the training.
  7. Add humor! Humor can be in the form of stories, visuals, text and even in the interactivity. When the learner gets an answer correct in my E-Learning, they get an audio of me saying “Woohoo!” But remember, every correct answer can’t have the same response, so even those short audio responses to answers needs to be switched up.

Bottom line, there has got to be something NEW every 10 seconds OR LESS to keep your learners engaged. This will be even more critical as new generations of learners come into your workplace.

P.s. If you are interested in becoming an E-Learning Power Partner and earn $1-$10K email me at I’m putting together a Partner Package for Speakers, Consultants and Coaches who feel my E-Learning courses (in Communication Skills, Time Management & Work/Life Balance) could complement/enhance the kinds of services they already deliver. Just email me back and I can send you the link to learn more.

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