E-Learning, L&D

5 Ways to Design Immersive E-Learning

Learning another language through immersion works!  I am a fluent Spanish-speaker today because I lived in the Dominican Republic for a few years as a teen.  Knowing only basic words and phrases, I was thrown in during the summer months and was able to express myself by the time school started.  I also met many foreign exchange students during that time who had studied Spanish in traditional classrooms for years.  When they arrived, they had trouble stringing words together in conversational ways.  But within a few months of living in a Spanish-speaking country, the rhythms of the language came together, and they too could communicate.

Dictionary.com defines “immersion” as the state of being deeply engaged or involved; absorption.  In language immersion, because learners are surrounded by native speakers, they learn quickly like babies by listening and mimicking.  But how does this apply to e-learning course design?

Here are 5 ways to create immersive e-learning experiences:

  1. Develop engaging stories. There’s nothing like being engrossed in a magical historical novel or terrifying psychological thriller.  According to Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, people are happiest in a state of flow…when they are so into what they are doing that nothing else seems to matter.  Creating this type of emotional reaction is as important in learning as it is in book writing or game development.
  2. Include interaction points.  Just as language education involves repetition, learning any topic must include ample opportunities to practice. Online practice can be made up of varied hands-on activities like tile-laying exercises, quizzes/tests and writing tasks.
  3. Provide relevant examples.  Malcolm Knowles, father of adult learning theory, notes that adults come to learning with a lot of experiences. Context matters to adults and most are interested in subjects that have an immediate impact on them.  Adding content that resonates with application to their jobs or personal lives is critical.  Activities and examples must be practical.
  4. Don’t forget the foundation. Using vocabulary and grammar lessons exclusively is a mistake when teaching a foreign language, but basic concepts must be there.  Similarly, e-learning designers should ensure that learners have fulfilled subject prerequisites, have basic knowledge of the learning technology used, and can easily navigate the course.
  5. Give control. Adult learners are self-directed and often enjoy discovering information.  Since remote learning happens anywhere/anytime, learners should be encouraged to forge their own paths when appropriate.  Open-world video games give players a lot of freedom in how they approach their objectives.  Similarly, e-learning can be designed to allow participants to pick their learning routes and track goals based on their learning preferences.

There are many advantages to using e-learning to develop talent.  But in order for learning to be effective, adult learners must be captivated by engaging stories, interactive lessons, relevant examples, solid foundations and varied learning paths.  Are you ready to immerse your learners?

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