Attention span in e-learning courses: how long should they be?


Are you a trainer or a bore? Every kind of learning has a cost, even e-learning courses. For this reason, at isEazy Author, we want to talk to you about the attention span of e-learning courses and the ideal length of your online training.

Should they be short and concise or long with in-depth information? That decision will depend on your target audience and the context of the course. However, some tips can help you make your e-learning courses as impactful as possible.

It’s estimated that the average time a user spends in a learning session is 15 minutes. This time coincides with the time spent on a website or e-learning course. However, we should clarify that 15 minutes is a long time for a person to visit a web page (usually around 2 minutes).

Indeed, the question has arisen in your mind… What keeps people interested for 6.5 times longer than usual?

The importance of the time a user spends viewing e-learning courses

If you make sure your online course is the correct length for your target audience, you will achieve the following:

  • Your students will finish the course successfully.
  • You will have a motivated audience, and it will be more possible that they want to take more courses!
  • They will want to put their new knowledge into practice as soon as possible.

At this point, you are probably wondering: can I keep a learner’s attention with an e-learning course and compete with other formats (video, audio…)?

15 minutes is the ideal time to study an e-learning course

If you notice, it is curious that just 15 minutes is the length of the average TED Talk, which stipulates that no presentation should last more than 18 minutes.

Also, if you’re a regular viewer of these types of conferences, you’d know that Chris Anderson said at one of these events: “Eighteen minutes is long enough to be serious and short enough to get people’s attention.”

18 minutes is also the time we can squeeze while having a coffee, traveling, or multitasking.

If we analyze other types of e-learning content, we can see that the average time the learner’s session lasts shows many variations. This will depend on the following:

  • The student’s desire to learn
  • The type of content
  • The time available

Average time students maintain their attention depending on the formats

As we have already mentioned, the type of content will keep your learners engaged in your e-learning courses or, on the contrary, completely lose interest. Let’s see the different cases:

  • Video content: Video in e-learning content is one of the most effective audiovisual resources for impacting your audience.
    The leading video content platform (YouTube) shows that the abandonment rate of videos usually starts after 3 minutes.
  • Online stores: Websites that include online sales should take advantage of the initial impact to sell to their visitors (it is estimated that interest decreases after 2 minutes on a web page). Have you ever developed your e-learning courses thinking about boosting your sales?
  • Blogs: After 6 minutes, user interest decreases. Not surprisingly, the most popular blogs use less than 1,000 words to develop quality content that provides extra value to their users. As it is a “shorter” type of content, it is more likely to be shared and read by more people.
  • Podcast: This format is ideal for people on the go since they can listen to them from any mobile device. If you decide to use it, try to make it 15-18 minutes long.

When we talk about e-learning training courses, there are some behaviors that your user will have that are directly related to the type of content you will show them during your course.

You must consider the call to action if you are creating mini-videos to include in your e-learning course. What do you want your learners to do? Is it going to help them assimilate the information better?

herramientas digitales Factory

#3 Tips to increase a learner’s attention during an e-learning course

¡One of the biggest doubts people have when creating e-learning courses is… How can I keep the attention of my students? At isEazy Author, we give you some basic tips you can use:

Use a descriptive title!

When it comes to blogging or sharing content on social networks, one of the things that help us attract an audience is a title. The most popular articles are estimated to have a title between 12-18 words. Although it may seem a bit shocking initially, the truth is that this allows you better to convey the topic, purpose, and benefit.

Why don’t you apply this same strategy to your e-learning courses? This way, you will attract more learners who are interested in that topic. For example: If your course is about computer security, you can develop the title by showing some course content: “Phishing attacks are on the rise. We tell you the keys to keep your personal identity safe”.

Try to personalize your content

Can you imagine anything more frustrating than offering information a learner already knows? If this happens in an e-learning course, it will not be relevant or shared. When you structure the contents of your e-learning course, design it thinking about the needs of the learners, always having relevant and useful content in mind.

Nowadays, companies invest a lot of money in creating web pages that respond to the needs of their target audiences, adapting both the design and the content they offer. This is also possible in the e-learning world, using evaluations and assessing the learning level of the students.

One of the most important rules: less is more

Does the session time really correspond to the learning time? If your course has content that does not bring extra value to the learner, it is best to omit it. Phil Crosby argues that “no one can remember more than three points”. And this same concept also applies to e-learning.

How much information can a person receive in 1,5,10,15 minutes? The funny thing is that the more content a learner tries to absorb, the less likely they are to internalize all the points they are learning. It is best to focus your course on the key points. This way, your learner can remember and process knowledge easily. Things you should keep in mind:

  • What could I improve in my e-learning course?
  • What should be enhanced for the person taking the course to become a better professional at the end of the course?
  • After finishing this course, what training can he/she start next?

attention span in online courses

Keys for improving learning attention span

Your course must respond to your learners’ needs to maintain the level of attention. In short, try:

  • Set an average time. The optimal time per session is usually less than 18 minutes.
  • Use titles with 12-18 words to engage your audience.
  • If you include video content, keep it to no more than 3 minutes.
  • Don’t overcrowd your course. Focus on the key points you want to promote.
  • Customize your course to suit your audience.
  • Use assessments to measure the level of learning.
  • If you need to, you can use our templates for online courses.

Would you like to boost their attention span in your online courses? Try isEazy Author for free and get the most out of your e-learning content – you’ll be amazed by the results!

Sara De la Torre


Sara De la Torre

Content Marketing Manager at isEazy

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