Attention Span of e-Learning Participants – It Depends
What is the attention span of participants taking a self paced e-learning course? A lot of different numbers have been thrown around out there. In my opinion, the attention span for an e-learning participant depends on many different factors, which I will list here:
- Is the working environment conducive for learning online? Time given away from daily responsibilities to take the course, a location without distractions , etc.
- Do they have a preference for learning online?
- Are they encouraged by supervisors to complete courses? An optimum situation is not only where supervisors encourage participation, but where they also discuss the course with staff (what was learned, how they will apply the new skills or knowledge, etc.).
- Is the content relevant to the learner and their job?
- Is the content engaging and have an appropriate level of interactivity?
- Is the content succinct?
Navigation and orientation
- Does the course allow user control? Adults like to direct their own learning.
- Is there an ease of navigation? Difficult or confusing navigation is discouraging and certainly does not increase attention span.
- Does the learner know where they are in the course at all times (orientation)?
When all elements are in place, I believe course participants’ attention span is 30 minutes maximum. It has been my experience that longer courses, even with all of the above elements, do not maintain participants’ attention. Courses I have developed that fall below this 30 minute threshold have higher completion rates and time spent in the courses are more reflective of the estimated course completion times. I cannot say the same for my hour long courses.
Here are links to what others have said about this topic:
Please feel free to share your opinion on the attention span of e-learning participants and what factors may affect it.