How to strengthen your e-learning by using examples

Renate de Jonge

People learn the most when they are aware of the real life consequences instead of only the possible implications, because we get motivated by what others experience. Knowing how the burning of a house affected the family that lived in it, is much more effective than a collection of statistics about its origin.


Now that you know how to write a good e-learning script, we have a few more tips for you about examples: make them work for you and reinforce the content of your e-learning! These are 6 ways to use examples in your online training:

 

1. Screenshots

Screenshots are ideal in support of textual information, because you can show your users exactly what you mean. It is much easier to show where a specific link can be found in a screenshot, than by trying to explain it in words. Screenshots are especially appropriate when visualising a sequence of steps, for example, when you are explaining your team how to use the new CRM-system.

 

2. Scenarios and stories

Showing your users relevant information in an engaging way can be done by presenting a story that includes situations from real life, similar to the example in the introduction. You can come up with characters, locations, and details to give the story more context.  

 

Are you informing your new employees about the company’s rules of conduct? You could tell a story about how an employee experienced online harassment by a few colleagues, and what this employee did to solve the situation. By including such details, the problem becomes relatable and relevant to your users. 

 

This also prepares them much better for the workplace, as you have told and shown them how to handle particular situations. Make your story as true to life as you can, and make your users think critically about whether they would have done the same or otherwise.

 

3. Case studies

Case studies analyse a real incident in detail to gain an insight into what could be done differently or the same in similar situations. It is an excellent way to bridge the gap between theory and practice, as case studies are great for presenting the ‘best practices,’ how to apply different tools, and how to develop your creative and critical thinking skills.  

 

Online courses that were designed to teach companies the importance of complying with the sustainability rules can, for example, use a case study to show the negative effects of ignoring these rules. It could negatively affect the image of the company, their financial situation, as well as the environment. All of this is much more effective than talking about a bunch of facts and numbers about CO2 emissions and air quality.

 

4. Visual metaphors

Visuals are of course essential when talking about the topic of examples in an online learning environment. The visual metaphor works particularly well here, as you use elements to make topics more interesting and appealing to your users. Let’s use the example of sustainability and the environment again. An image of heavily smoking factory chimneys clearly illustrates that you are talking about pollution, however, our brains have seen images like this many times before: ‘we know this by now.’ A visual metaphor of melting ice cream, with one of the scoops of ice cream resembling Earth is much more original and grabs the viewer’s attention. It fits into our experience and is more likely to be remembered.

 

5. Video

We are emphasising it once again. Video is a fantastic way to reach your online users, because the combination of audio and visual elements is perfect for them, as they have already become accustomed to watching videos.

 

6. Involve users in conceptualising examples

Sometimes the best way to get your users to understand a certain example, is by letting them come up with one themselves. Once you have presented particular information, you can ask your users to think of a practical example that supports the information. This stimulates their critical thinking and helps them retain information, because users are asked to apply the theory and phrase it in a way that is relevant for them.

 

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