Designing Attention Grabbers for Your E-Learning

I just read an interesting post titled: Hooking learners with a simple story by Kevin. I appreciate that he has shared some good examples to show how you can start a course with a story line to get the learners interested in the course.

This post also reminded me of my post on Attention Grabbers which I wrote sometime back.

Instead of starting a course with learning objectives, it is a good idea to introduce the course with a story or an exercise. This would motivate the learners to take up the course and morever it immediately conveys the relevance of the course to the learner.

But then desgning attention grabbers can be challenging. The first challenge comes with your creative thinking. You have to generate interesting and creative ideas to design your attention grabber. Using similar ideas for every course might not be effective. This is just like creating an advertisement for a product.  Advertisements work wonders when it comes to luring people to buy the product. The product gains popularity through advertisements. But then some advertisements stay in your mind and make you want to try the product and some don’t.

Similarily, the beginning of a movie makes an impact on you. There have been so many times when I haven’t felt like watching a movie because the beginning was not that great.

Even games have attention grabbers. Pick up any game, you just dont get into the game immediately. There is always a story to start with. This makes the game interesting.

Games have lengthy text based stories and it just makes me press the Skip button. I have seen a couple of courses and even games, that start with a story but are majorly text based. You have a background image and you see text (story) coming up on the screen. You might just get tired reading so much stuff and you might just want to start off. 

Such attention grabbers do no good. Therefore you need to put in lot of thought in designing the introduction of your e-learning course.

I prefer attention grabbers that are less text based and more visual.

Coming to attention grabbers in e-learning, scenarios, stories, images and exercises are some good building blocks . You generate some creative ideas for a course and using the building blocks, you create an effective attention grabber.

I remember having worked on a course targeted at freshers joining their first job. It was basically about dos and donts during the probation period in the first job. My colleageue suggested a very creative cartoon strips as the introduction slide for the course.

The first cartoon strip had a guy who looks happy having crossed lots of hurdles and because he thinks he has crossed the final two hurdles labelled Graduation and Job respectively.

Probably something like shown below:

Please note this comic strip has been randomly picked up from the web and tweaked a bit for llustration sake.

 The next comic strip shows the guy surprised because he sees one more hurdle that he has to cross. The hurdle is labelled First Ninety Days in Your First Job.

Again something as shown below:

Please note the comic strip below has been randomly picked up from the web and tweaked a bit for llustration sake.

This simple comic strip conveys so much about the importance of the course. It touches upon the common notion of fresh graduates who think they have achieved all by graduating and seeking a job. The attention grabber here touches upon this generic notion and conveys the important message that it is extremely important to take the probation period in the first job very seriously.

I would like to share more such interesting attention grabbers whenever I come across one. Please do feel free to share some interesting attention grabbers, if you have one.


6 Responses

  1. Hi there!

    Those are nice strips that you’ve used from the web. You can also create your own comic strips using, easy to use, an online comic strip creator with a lot of cool features! Do check it out!

  2. Hi Rupa

    UB here. I am an aspiring ID presently in Koramangala, Bangalore. I just dont know where to start. I think I missed the admissions on Symbiosis course too this year and cannot seem to find any opening here. I know this is not a career guidance blog but I still think you can guide me a lot.

    Thanks again.

    (kindly mail me so that I could explain my case better)

  3. Great comparison you made with the movie reference. It certainly is hard to maintain interest in a movie if the opening is dull and boring. Of course, sometimes movies start out interesting or exciting, but quickly lose our interest. E-learning courses can be the same. That’s just what I am pondering now….how to maintain interest after the initial attention grabber.

  4. […] Designing Attention Grabbers for Your E-Learning | One-Stop Resource for Instructional Design | Rupa Rajagopalan | 23 August 2008 Share and Enjoy: […]

  5. Hi Rupa,

    Yet another great post !

    Am a lover of cartoons and so given a chance, I’d definitely start off with a cartoon for an attention grabber 🙂 Otherwise, I use animations, tricky questions, a thought-provoking quote, etc and then guide learners through the course. My style is also to introduce all these elements in between the pages too. Just that the timing and aptness is so very important when you introduce these.

    One challenge I have faced with cartoons as attention grabbers is the acceptance level of the target audience. In one of my previous organizations, one of my assignments was an awareness course on Sexual Harrassment and “preventive measures” 😉 Being a delicate topic, I did not quite want to make it a serious course quoting law points and employee termination rules. I knew my learners wouldn’t be motivated to just read law points. I preferred driving it around cartoons pertaining to each rule, while I drove home the point. My course was well accepted by youngesters (When I did a ‘sample test’ on chosen audience before the course release). However, the older fraction of the company did not find it serious enough – cartoons take off seriousness, they said. Many couldn’t catch the humor behind those cartoons too. We then recreated graphics in more serious tones. I sadly noticed that the course had to be just another e-learning course with no difference to the approach 😦

    I learnt that attention grabbers need to suit all audience levels too. What might look interesting to some may not be the same to others. It would be easier if the target audience is all the same -just engineers in the age group of 25/26 or Senior managers, etc. When you have a mixed group, where do we draw the line? Still wondering.

    Regarding Kevin’s comment about maintaining interest levels after the attention graber, my way is to introduce “breaks” in the form of anecdotes/cartoons/thought-provoking questions at the end of each concept or idea. These “breaks” could subtly point to the next concept that we are going to introduce in the following slides. Just a few thoughts…

    Keep writing:-)


  6. […] Rupa talks about the use of comics as an attention grabber. You could use ToonDoo, for example, to produce and customize your own comics, or even have your learners produce a comic strip to introduce themselves. Cool! Need to test that. […]

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