3 practical tips
for more motivation in eLearning

Annika Willers · Tips & tricks · Last updated on April 27th, 2021

The success of eLearning offerings is closely linked to the motivation of the participants. In companies, learning offers are shown to be more successful the more motivated the employees are to participate independently and self-determined. And this is even more true for eLearning than for other non-digital offerings.

In a previous blog post, we took a look at what motivation and self-discipline are all about. In doing so, we went into Jonathan Haidt’s theory of elephant and rider (elephant = intuition and gut feeling, rider = awareness and control). In this article, we would now like to give you three practical tips on how to create your eLearning offering in such a way that it becomes a sure-fire success for the participants.

Practical tips

  1. Storytelling
  2. Surprise
  3. Reward

Practical tip 1: Storytelling

We are better able to remember content if it is told to us as a story. Stories require less cognitive effort and thus stick in our memory longer.

Can you embed your learning content in a frame story and thus offer your participants a common theme? It’s easier than you think! How about having a mascot virtually take over the course guidance? The mascot can take over the greeting, weave in anecdotes, give helpful tips, and thus reinforce a logical sequence of the learning content. This makes it easier for your learners to hold on to the information.

So our tip is: “Tell the elephant a story.”

Practical tip motivation in eLearning: Storytelling

Practical tip 2: Surprise

Work with surprise effects. Positive surprises create “aha” moments for learners, which make them want to learn more. The resulting motivation also increases the learners’ cognitive resources, increases their attention, and makes it easier to focus on the content. A little trick to increase the self-discipline of the learners.

How do you surprise in eLearning? That’s not so terribly difficult, either.
In between, keep asking interesting questions or giving interesting results, such as an answer to a question one wouldn’t expect. Application questions are also interesting because they are relevant. And relevant things are better retained.

Alternatively, you can play with cliffhangers, leaving out information that will only be added after a few learning steps – this will help the course participants stay on the ball.

One last element of surprise? Humor! It has been scientifically proven that we remember the content of funny sentences better.

Our tip 2 summarized: “Surprise the elephant.”

Practical tip motivation in eLearning: Surprise

Practical tip 3: Reward

Let’s start with a small example: In our thought experiment, you are allowed to choose your own reward in three scenarios.

  • Scenario  1:    A) 10 € today    B) 11 € tomorrow
  • Scenario 2:    A) 10 € today    B) 11 € in one year
  • Scenario 3:    A) 10 € today    B) 100 € in one year

In scenario 1, the choice is distributed about equally between A and B.
In scenario 2, almost 100% choose the direct reward A.
In the third scenario, however, the choice falls with almost 100% on variant B, because the reward in the future is higher.

But what does that mean for our eLearning and motivation?

Make the teaser for your course exciting. Set the stage for what will be learned. But most importantly, why and how the learning is important. Focus on the benefits of what is being learned. This way, you create an awareness of the problem among your course participants, they understand the urgency and importance of the eLearnings.

Motivation is also related to success. And if learners are aware from the very start that the content of eLearning will enable them to master their everyday work challenges faster and better, their motivation for learning will increase.

But not only that. If we are successful in answering questions, for example, this increases our motivation to continue learning. Also, make learning an experience by enabling learners to celebrate small interim successes. Badges, for example, which can be unlocked gradually, are a good way of doing this.

Tip number 3 for more motivation: “Reward the elephant.”

Practical tip motivation in eLearning: Reward

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