Designing online courses can be a rewarding means of expanding your income, but it can also be difficult. Today’s learner has a plethora of resources at her disposal for gathering information, your eLearning platform must be unique. You must create online courses that will captivate your learners and keep them coming back for more; you don’t want to lose them to your competition!

Psychologists and neuroscientists have found that our brain’s capabilities and limitations influence how we learn. This highlights how important it is to create educational content based on psychological research. Some of the psychological principles established from research on learning include the following:

  1. Many people have learning limitations:

Apart from the fact that psychologists have found that the attention span of humans keeps getting shorter, studies from cognitive psychologists indicate that the brain has a threshold to the quantity of data it can process at any given time. When a piece of information enters the brain and is given adequate attention, the long-term memory processes it and stores it in the brain along with related data. Similar ideas are grouped. This is why chunking is one of the study strategies that can be used across most disciplines. Storing new information might be challenging when there is no related information to put it with. As a result, learners will likely forget unconnected bits and pieces of information from your online course material before they can even recall them. To make it easier for your target learners to remember the knowledge, make sure they can build associations between the many bits of content in your course material.4

  1. People naturally crave information

Humans are naturally curious, and they enjoy learning and discovering things that aren’t visible on the surface. The more inquisitive people are, the more questions they ask, the more they investigate, the more connections they establish, the more time they spend learning, and the happier they are in their careers. To draw the learner’s attention or boost their interest, e-learning designers can stimulate and arouse curiosity. For instance, beginning a course by posing a question. Questions pique people’s interest and entice them to want to know the solution. If students are unable to answer the opening question, it will drive them to enroll in the course and continue their search for an answer, causing them to commit from the start. Asking a question at the start of an e-learning course is an excellent tactic.

  1. People do not like to think or work more than necessary.

The truth is that people will do the least amount of work necessary to complete a goal. Learners, particularly in e-learning, want to obtain the knowledge they need as quickly as possible and then return to work. Our brain is built to focus on and digest a limited quantity of information. Too much of that quantity can make students less creative, less productive, and less capable of making sound decisions. In order to develop a course that will sell, consider the following: 

  • Create your course material in such a way that students can complete it at their own pace.
  • Give learners snippets of information and let them decide whether or not they want to learn more. 
  • Teach learners what they need to know otherwise, they are inclined to disregard extra information or abandon the course. Giving learners more than they need just complicates the learning process.

  1. People are not easily distracted when they are focused on something important

The human brain is structured to pay attention to a maximum of three to four things at once. This means that course designers must consider the science of attention and design e-learning materials in a way that protects learners from distractions. Humans have a shorter attention span than a lot of other animals, which means that keeping a person on your e-learning platform for a full study session will require creativity and excellent design. Once you make learners feel that they need your course, they will attach importance to it. Some of the strategies you can use include

  • Design for variable attention spans: even though we are focusing on capturing learners’ attention, this does not guarantee that they will remain focused. Attention naturally fluctuates. You can plan your courses in intervals to accommodate this unavoidable variance. You can recapture learners’ attention every 5-10 minutes by shifting the focus of information.
  • Course summary: You can create a summary or overview of the course modules in a few phrases or by visual representations. Include the most significant points to be discussed.
  • One module, one goal: This states that for each module, a particular goal should be clearly specified.

  1. Humans are social beings who learn better together.

 Because humans naturally form social bonds, it is essential to provide people with the opportunity to form groups with other learners. This enforces the popular saying that two heads are better than one. When a person learns with another person or in a group, at least three things can happen. They can collaborate, compete with each other (and thus aim to beat each other), or work independently while sharing similar goals with other pupils. No matter what pattern of interaction learners are involved in, they may effectively provide and receive feedback so that they are driven to learn or at the very least complete their duties. People look to others for advice on what they should do, especially if they are unsure. As an instructional designer, it is important to create opportunities for your employees to interact in your e-learning classes, whether it’s through video or chat.


The importance of creating compelling content cannot be over-emphasized. We have compiled a few ideas to help instructional designers with creating unique content for their learners. 

  1. Structure your course modules according to a story model.

If you’re an e-learning designer trying to break out of the mold and attempt something new, you might consider one of our hardwired habits: storytelling. Making your classes more intriguing by weaving a tale can help your students to stay involved in the lessons. We’re all suckers for a good narrative. And nothing beats a story with drama, crisis, and a happy ending or resolution. You can use Freytag’s Pyramid model to build a fascinating story by including at least the following five elements: introduction, exposition (which includes an inciting incident), rising action, climax, and lastly the Falling Action, Catastrophe, or Denouement.

  1. Write in active voice

Have you asked yourself why learners do not complete courses even if the subject is interesting? Well, this is mostly because the courses are uninteresting or incomprehensible to them. Your writing can transform a boring piece of content into something that learners devour enthusiastically, or an interesting subject into the garbage that learners discard halfway through the course. Writing in an active voice is an effective technique to engage students. Using active voice allows you to speak to the student in an informal tone as if he or she were a friend, so he or she naturally listens. The hint of motion in the active voice piques learners’ interest and forces them to pay attention because they want to know what the subject is up to. The active voice has a greater impact since the directness of the tone strikes learners like a punch.

  1. Leverage the power of visuals

Multiple researchers have discovered that images, in addition to keeping learners engaged, improve the instructional soundness of learning materials. Why? Memorable and effective pictures are an effective teaching tool that boosts learner engagement, decreases cognitive load, and most efficiently achieves learning objectives. We could argue that the graphics we use in a course are just as significant as the text we write, the interactions we create, and the assessments we provide. So, as an instructional designer, you need to make sure you employ them correctly to capture and hold the attention of learners.

  1. Use humuor effectively.

Remember that your e-learning courses will interact with human beings who have emotions. It is important to incorporate humor to set a more relaxed tone for your classes. According to studies, when people are in a good mood, they are more sensitive to new concepts and ideas, use their analytical abilities more, learn better, and remember more. You must make it a point to find amusing ways to explain dry material – for instance by using humorous anecdotes, and repeating them frequently in the course. Because the endorphins released when we laugh assist with anchoring memories, humor makes content memorable. ‘

  1. Use powerful headlines

Your headlines should pique learners’ interest and compel them to register and complete your course. It is critical to choose impactful words that convey emotions to learners – for instance, active verbs. Using the following elements as guidelines to create headlines could be beneficial: 

  • Curiosity: Inspire learners’ curiosity. You can take classic movie words (Show me the money instead of “The Financial Benefits of Investment”) or play with cliché phrases to change their meanings. 
  • Benefit: To entice learners, state the “what’s in it for me” information in the headline. For instance, instead of “The Benefits of Investing in Stocks,” write “How Can You Become Rich by Investing in Stocks.” 
  • Solution: Highlight a problem and declare that you have a solution. Your students are constantly looking for solutions to their problems.

We hope our research and recommendations will assist you in successfully creating the next best-selling course. Feel free to share your instructional design experiences in the comment section below.


10 Ideas to Create Engaging eLearning Courses (


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