Your eyes are drooping. Your mind is in a fog. You just want to sleep. Learning’s greatest enemy is slowly creeping in; boredom.
Maybe you hate math. Or perhaps financial jargon puts you to sleep. Regardless of your likes or dislikes, English philosopher G.K. Chesterton reminds us that “there are no boring subjects, only disinterested minds.”
Rather than blaming a course’s subject matter for being boring, there are proactive ways to make content more interesting instead. This article will explore the negative effects of boredom, how to combat it, and suggest ways to make course content actively engaging regardless of the topic.
The Dangers of Boredom: What Content Creators Should Know
What is Boredom? Before we can begin to fight boredom, we need to understand what it is.
We all know the feeling of being bored, but how do we put it into words?
The Unengaged Mind, published in 2012 by a group of behavioral psychologists defines boredom as the inability to stay engaged, broken down into three main categories:
- Failure to engage with internal and external stimuli
- Obsession with the idea of being bored
- Blaming our boredom on outside sources
Boredom and Physical Pain: Boredom is more than just a dull feeling. Studies show that it can have negative health consequences as well.
In a 2012 Australian study, researchers looked at 315 workers who complained of back pain. Findings showed that those who felt “bored” or “stuck” in a negative work environment were more likely to have back pain six months later.
Now that we know what boredom looks like, it’s time to beat it through passionate, engaging course design.
Passionate Course Creators Are Successful Course Creators
Get Passionate: Fighting boredom all begins with the proper mindset. Learners take cues from their instructors, so if they detect a lack of passion, interest, or confidence about a topic, they will end up feeling disinterested as well.
If learners sense that their course creator is excited, confident, and interested in the subject at hand, they will be inspired to feel the same way. This concept is defined as “social curiosity”.
Social Curiosity: Have you ever seen a group of people staring at something in awe, and joined them just to see what all the excitement was about? This is an example of social curiosity.
- Social curiosity is defined as wanting to know what other people are thinking and doing by observing them or engaging with them.
In other words, if others show interest in something in front of us, it inspires us to show interest as well.
Now let’s apply this concept to an eLearning situation. To spark curiosity in a course, try:
- Including short testimonials from past learners
- Having learners share why they are interested in the course
- Showing a few examples of how the topic is relevant to daily life. For example, if the topic is filing taxes, share a story of how someone can go from stressed to confident by taking this course.
Beating boredom begins with the course creator. Read on to find out how to incorporate more boredom-busters into any instructional strategy.
Learning Engagement: Find The Right Angle!
Find an angle: Reporters aren’t the only ones who need to find an angle to tell an engaging story. Content creators need to find an angle too.
- An “angle” can be defined as how you approach and present a subject.
So what angle should you use to get people interested in your course’s topic?
Let’s say your course is about diversity in the workplace. Instead of jumping into complicated terms, maybe begin by sharing studies showing that diversity helps businesses improve employee performance.
This will grab your audience’s attention and help learners see both the personal and professional relevance of the topic.
Focus on Visuals: Who doesn’t have a hard time looking at graphs for an hour? Break up spreadsheets and data with more playful visuals, such as an interactive timeline or flashcards. You can even try easter eggs!
- In cinema, easter eggs are little clues or images that the director hides in the scene, which contribute to the film’s greater meaning.
You can hide relevant and interesting images in your eLearning course as well. At the end of the course, ask your learners if they found all of the hidden images!
This will not only add some fun to your eLearning course but also encourage learners to look closely at the content before them.
Course Content That Beats Boredom Before It Starts
Boredom is never a good feeling. It can leave learners apathetic, unfulfilled, and even a little depressed. Luckily, with a few personalized touches and a dose of passion, content developers have the power to beat boredom before it even starts.
When was the last time you felt bored during a course? What do you think the course creator could have done to make the lesson more interesting? Share your thoughts with us here at WeLearn, because together we can combat boredom and learn at the same time.