The user attention span is about eight seconds, which is an issue for marketers, but it's no easy feat for instructional designers either. The learning mindset is different from the one we have when surfing the web or scrolling on social media, but the challenge remains as course creators strive to hook learners and keep them engaged in e-learning. One of the most effective methods is drip course content, where the modules are released according to a predetermined schedule instead of being accessible all at once.
What is drip course content?
Drip-feeding learning content means that you offer a timed delivery. Instead of having all the modules available to learners as soon as they have made the purchase, knowledge entrepreneurs choose the number of days that need to pass before unlocking a new installment.
There are several reasons for doing this. First, not releasing large amounts of content at once helps reduce the risk of information overload. Drip content is also great for keeping engagement levels up as the learners see their progress with the completion of each module and, when expectations are properly managed, eagerly await the next one. This form of scheduling modules is also beneficial for spaced repetition, which is crucial for the overall success of the learning journey.
What are the pros and cons of drip content?
There are many reasons why selecting a drip course content strategy benefits learners and content creators.
The most relevant ones are:
- An improved learning experience. Learners feel more in control when they have a clear view of their learning path. There is a sense of accomplishment every time they finish a new module, and being able to see their progress boosts engagement and overall satisfaction;
- Better information retention. Mini courses are very popular among busy learners. When you opt for a drip content structure, even if your modules are lengthier than the popular bite-size ones your learners will have an easier time remembering and practicing the new knowledge;
- Superior completion rates. E-learning allows for learner autonomy, which is excellent; however, this also means that they can decide to drop off at any time. Usually, this occurs when there are certain learning barriers such as the content not being useful to them or when it's too difficult. The first issue can be quickly addressed by giving a comprehensive course description. You can solve the information overload problem by chunking up the material and adopting a drip content approach.
However, this way of online course delivery does not work for everyone. Here are the instances when it’s best not to use it:
- Competencies that need to be acquired quickly. When your courses cover knowledge that users need promptly, it's best to leave the option of when and how much to learn to them. At one point in my training career, the requirements for doing my job changed, and I had to complete a certified train-the-trainer course in order to continue in that role. It was a matter of compliance, and the timeline for it was “the sooner, the better,” so a drip content scheme would not have been welcome;
- Extensive courses that cover a wide range of competencies. When you have complex courses, it's likely that learners will already know part of the information. As a result, not all the modules will be relevant to them, so they should be allowed to choose which parts to complete. Having a drip content structure will frustrate instead of help.
Now that you know the pros and cons, it’s time to learn how to use drip content.
How to use drip course content to create a schedule for your online course
To start deploying your modules in a drip feed, you need a learning management system (LMS) that features drip content.
1. Setting up drip content
To start using drip feed, you need to enable the drip content feature in your LMS. This feature uses automation that will allow you to use various settings for your online course. You need to have at least some of the modules ready before launching the course.
Ideally, you'll have all of them ready and uploaded since the learners can see them even if they can't access them. The first module will be automatically available upon enrollment, and each subsequent module will be unlocked when the specified time has passed.
You can choose if the learners will be able to see the newly unlocked modules within minutes, hours, or days. It’s best that they can see the entire course to get a sense of the journey ahead, their progress and gauge their efforts.
2. Creating a custom message
As a course creator, you have three options when it comes to messages that learners receive when they unlock a new module:
- Learners receive the automatic canned message generated by the LMS. You can edit the message to give it a personalized touch;
- Opt for no message at all. I would advise against this because it may make users unaware that they have unlocked a new module;
- Send a custom message. Coosing the personalized route is best as you can include the name of the learner, congratulate them on their progress, and encourage them to continue.
The last option is the best since such a message can make a big difference in the overall learning experience and significantly impact completion rates.
3. Lock/unlock modules rules
Setting a rule using automation is very helpful for unlocking new modules. You can add specific rules for these actions if you want to have finer control of when modules are locked and unlocked. Rules can also be added for modules, sections, and assessments.
To give you an example, you can add a rule that when the learner completes the course's first module, the second one is unlocked. This is achieved by adding a completion action and you can choose if module two unlocks immediately or after a certain amount of time after the learner finished module one.
Once you have set all the rules, it's easy sailing, as the platform will do the rest and provide a seamless learning journey.
4. Add gamification elements
One of the qualities of drip learning content is that it matches the different levels of a computer game. Gamification elements are very effective means of driving engagement, and your LMS should allow you to include them in your online courses. Learning professionals agree that it’s not a matter of whether or not you should incorporate these elements into your e-learning but rather of how to do so more effectively.
You can award points, badges, coupons, or certificates and display leaderboards – all these will make learning fun and keep the users motivated to proceed with unlocking all the modules.
Drip course content for an enhanced learning experience
Drip content is great for your learners as they can learn at a pace that doesn’t overwhelm them. If you pair the drip strategy with good gamification mechanics, you'll soon see better results both in quiz scores and satisfaction surveys.
All you need is you need a learning platform that allows you to take full advantage of drip content. INDIE LMS has all the tools entrepreneurs need to create, manage and sell online courses, including automation and gamification. In this way, you don’t need to take extra steps to schedule modules, and learners will have a seamless and engaging learning experience.