ADHD and eLearning Design

Let’s face it–some people are really messy thinkers. They may be slightly ADHD or get bored easily by step-wise approaches to problem solving.  Or, lest we cut corners, they may be just plain Lazy.

Let’s say you are designing a compliance training course where all your employees have to participate so you can keep your accreditation.   Something mandatory, like: “How to Identify and Report Cyber Bullying”.  As a training designer or practitioner you know that “one size doesn’t fit all.”

One thing all your trainees may share is the inability to sit still for long periods of time whether by choice or work commitments; instant electronic gratification (IEG) is a common malady these days. So what are some coping strategies you can employ as a course designer to reduce IEG?

Photo Courtesy: Impact Teachers, www.impacteachers.com



To help answer that question, we can learn a few things from teachers who deal with students who exhibit attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We are talking about Inattentive ADHD where the mind wanders and can’t focus on the task at hand. Most of us exhibit minor symptoms of this type of ADHD.



The strategies involved with successfully handling these ADHD students are:

  1. Establish rules and routines
  2. Pair up learners so one can keep the other on track
  3. Reduce potential distractions
  4. Use positive peer models
  5. Prepare for transitions
  6. Provide positive frequent feedback
  7. Assign work that fits the learner’s skill level
  8. Provide visual clues and reminders
  9. Encourage hands-on learning

How can we translate this advice into course design? Courseware design is best handled in small bits and pieces. Videos need to be short; outcomes or learning objectives need to be clearly stated with each new idea that is presented; testing should reward and not punish; and there should be opportunities for learners to be mentored and work collaboratively so the mental wanderers can be kept on track. And importantly, rules and routines need to be established.  Much is made about the flexibility of eLearning, however, there need to be enforceable rules (make them positive) about completing courseware. For example, a message congratulating the learner for completing the course and offering them a $25 gift certificate for doing so.

Whatever technique you choose, make sure your course is short, to the point, and positive and if at all possible, make it hands-on. If you read the MLS blog article on 70-20-10 learning you’ll appreciate that we learn best by doing, not memorizing.

It’s relatively straightforward to demonstrate to a trainee the company’s definition of what is an acceptable and correct form of behaviour. Scenario based training is perhaps the best way to handle this kind of situation. For rote learning, like procedural issues (fill out this form, etc) a simple guided structure would work, perhaps followed by a little interactive quiz like drag-and-drop that reinforces knowledge and doesn’t punish the lack thereof.

My Learning Space are experts at helping you design and host your course so you can help keep learners on track and on target.