When your learners are presented with too much information at the same time, they can suffer from cognitive overload. Literally, the brain is unable to process all the material it is provided, resulting in poor absorption, retention and learning outcomes. Cognitive overload can be a result of poor instructional design, but it can also be caused in cases where the training demands a large curriculum to be effective.
Cognitive overload and effective instructional design
There are three ways that proper instructional design can be used to reduce cognitive overload:
- Clear learning objectives
- Bite-sized content
- Simple navigation
These are fundamental instructional design principles, which can be applied to your immersive learning, gamified learning, e-learning or even traditional learning project to reduce cognitive load. However, we believe that the best way to apply them is through gamification and game-based learning. Let us explain how.
Reducing cognitive load through gamification and game-based learning
When you’re playing a game, you know its overall goals – to win the second world war, to crush the most candy, or save Princess Peach – but at the same time, you are focusing on the gameplay in front of you. You can go back to the previous level if you want, to earn more points, win more rewards, or complete more side quests. You can’t skip to the next level until you’ve mastered the one you’re currently on.
In short, you have clear learning objectives, a focus on small portions of the material at a time, and straightforward navigation. While you’re focusing solely on the limited content in front of you, you are aware of the bigger picture and can go backward to revisit a previous concept if needed.
How does this apply to e-learning?
During the planning phase, structure your content to clearly lay down long-term and short term objectives. What do you want your learners to gain from the entire gamified learning experience? What are the elements that you would like them to learn from each module? How do they tie in to each other?
By designing a game with multiple levels, you can create and maintain this structure with less effort. A game lends itself naturally to this kind of low-load structure.
Cognitive overload hurts everyone, learners and trainers alike. Support your learners with a game-based learning project that reduces the load and improves learning outcomes. Talk to our experts to learn more and understand how to design an e-learning course that delivers the best possible outcomes for your learners and your organization.