5 Ways to Reduce Cognitive Overload in eLearning

Okay, so you know all about how to successfully film live events, the difference between YouTube and KZO Video, and how to structure engaging video content. Still worried about how your audience is going to remember all of that information? Well, all it takes is a simple understanding of memory!

Memory can seem strange and limited, but it is also an efficient engine to transport information into your brain. There are two types of memory: working memory, which contains new information; and long-term memory, which stores new information for later use.

Because information processing is limited, it is important to understand 5 ways to reduce cognitive overload in eLearning so that people will process information more effectively.

  1. Present SOME information through a visual channel and then SOME through a verbal channel. The visual channel becomes overloaded if everything that is within your video is animation, pictures, text, etc. If you also speak during a video, it makes it easier for people to obtain more information.
  2. Allow the spectator to control the pace by breaking it into smaller fragments. As mentioned before, the average attention span is 8 seconds. That means that you have 8 seconds to catch someone’s attention and KEEP his or her attention—then it’s lost. By breaking up the segments, you can recapture that attention, allowing the viewer to control the speed at which they are learning your program. This lets the viewer process information more effectively.
  3. Remove non-essential information. If the images, music, and animations have nothing to do with the message you are trying to convey, take them out. They take up precious processing in the brain and increase extraneous load.
  4. Graphics should have the corresponding words close to them.  When your brain has to scan for keywords, it takes up additional cognitive processing. You want to spare as much as you can so that the viewer obtains the most IMPORTANT information. By placing the text and graphic right next to each other, you improve the transfer of information for the viewer.
  5. Don’t recite on-screen text word-for-word. When using narration, just summarize. When you recite what’s on the screen word-for-word, viewers are required to process the information twice, which in turn creates great deal of redundancy. You don’t want to take up both the visual channel AND verbal channel with the same content. Spread the love.

As instructors, we want to be conscious of the cognitive requirements of our viewers and  make sure we meet those requirements by always adding value to the learning experience.