You only have three minutes

I’ve been thinking about the Freakonomics blog post where people gave their ideas about why they do and don’t comment on blogs. In my initial post I just mentioned a few of the main reasons that I found interesting, but I hadn’t had time to really think about the implications of these reasons, not only for blogs but also for learning in general.

Having had a few weeks to think about two things really jump out at me, specifically related to how these reasons for not commenting impact the effectiveness of any training. I would argue that looking at why people do or don’t engage in a blog, may give us a fair indication of what people are or aren’t looking for in online training. Many eLearning applications are developed to engage the users so what lessons can we learn from people looking at blogs. Granted the two are fairly different in that reading a blog is part of informal learning, whereas some eLearning courses are required learning. Be that as it may we can still gleam something about what intrigues the cyber junkie and what rouses their interest or squashes their interactive juices.

The first is the fairly obvious and consistent reason for not commenting which is a lack of time. This is a VERY important factor to consider when developing online courses. DON’T try to develop these monstrous courses/modules that take hours to complete, people will become bored and they WILL move on!

How this for a great comment on the fixed cost of time:
“First is the fixed cost.. it just took me 3 minutes to register with Wordpress and that’s a long time for the internet age.” Matt W.

3 minutes! You better have something that is captivating to keep this guys attention!

The second aspect of commenting/not commenting that stood out for me was tone and expertise of the blog author. Check out these comments:

“It is not that I never have the desire, I just usually find myself far less articulate than the author of the blog that I am reading. For that reason I figure that there is no need for me to take away from what they have written with a seemingly un-intelligible response. I feel that there are far too many of these types of responses in blogs and I usually do not wish to be part of it.” Takshaka

“I choose weblogs authored by people much more knowledgeable than myself, written on topics I’d like to understand better. To think I would have something of substance to contribute, leaving a comment through this one-to-many broadcasting technology environment, would be hubris.” Dixie

I concede that people inclination to respond in written format on a blog authored by a blog may be different to engaging in online course, but there is certainly something to be gleaned from this comment. Tone is an essential part of a training course and bloggers comments on the experts should be taken into consideration. Not only have studies shown that simple language is easier to digest, but striking a tone of equality may get people to engage and absorb more of the information… By now my 3 minutes are up and you have probably moved on by now. If not, stay tuned.