The Secret to e-Learning Success and Happiness: Flow

What’s the secret to happiness and also the way to motivate your e-Learners? It’s the flow theory, developed by Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. “Flow” is the creative moment when a person is completely engaged in an activity for its own sake—exactly what you want for your learners when they’re taking your online training course.

“The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something we make happen,” writes Csikszentmihalyi in his book on using flow to achieve happiness: Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

If you help your learners achieve these moments throughout your course, they’ll be engaged, happy and eager to take that knowledge back to their jobs. Csikszentmihalyi identified many elements that contribute to achieving flow. Let’s take a look at a few, along with how you can apply these to the next e-Learning course you design.

  • Provide clear goals.
  • Give your learners clear learning objectives at the beginning of the e-Learning course. This allows learners to become focused enough on their goals to reach the flow state. For more help with this, plus a new way to look at goals, read this post: 4 Tips for Creating Effective e-Learning Objectives for Yourself.
  • Give immediate feedback.
  • To avoid interrupting flow, let you learners know if they’re succeeding or not while they’re actually progressing through your course. You can create checkpoints where you give this feedback. Check out this blog post for more tips: 4 Tips to Give Helpful Feedback to Your e-Learners.
  • Eliminate any distractions.
  • Anything extra—like clutter, unrelated information, excessive images—will interrupt your learners’ flow state. Get rid of all these distractions. For more help designing focus-friendly e-Learning, read this post: 5 Tips for Dealing with Distracted and Impatient Learners.

Use these tips to help your learners get to the flow state, where they’re happy, motivated and engaged in your course!

Like this psychology-filled post? Here’s another one that you should read: Color Me Intrigued: e-Learning and the Psychology of Color.

And if you just can’t get enough of this brain research, check out this blog post: Brain Power: How to Engage Your e-Learners.

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