How to Deal With Too Much Content and Avoid Information Overload

how to deal with information overloadHaving more content than you know what to do with is a common problem. It’s actually more common than having too little, with course creators beginning the process with years of research, SME input, and ideas on what their mega-course will look like.   

Here are 5 things you can do if you have TOO MUCH content!

#1 Keep focused on your learner

What skills or knowledge are essential for their improvement?

The content being added should always pass the “need to know vs. nice to know” test.

If you’re having trouble narrowing down what fits into each of these buckets, revisit the learning objectives and measure each chunk of content against that objective. Is it essential in helping the learner achieve the stated learning objective? If it’s not, cut it from the course (but hold onto it and I’ll tell you what to do with it later).

#2 Deliver it like a bullet

Just as you can have too many content ideas and topics, you can be too wordy on delivering them to your learner.

Master the method of explanation, so you can concisely transfer the needed skills and knowledge to your audience as efficiently as possible.

You’ll be surprised at how much “shorter” a course will get when you’re capable of delivering the same amount of content like a bullet.

#3 Don’t feel like you’re skimping

I’ve worked with several clients whose intentions were good – they wanted to provide the “most bang for the buck” to their learners by packing in as much content into their course as possible.

This is actually doing your learners a disservice.

The brain can only process so much content at a time. The smaller the chunks, the more effective it becomes.  Similarly, smaller courses have higher completion rates, meaning your learner actually consumed your content instead of getting overwhelmed with a behemoth and walking away.

#4 Use appendices

If content passes the “need to know” filter but is still too cumbersome to streamline into your core content, appendices are a great place for that extra info to live.

The above and beyond content provides additional value without overloading your learners.

You’ll often see this presented as “bonus” materials in pay-for courses, which feels like you’re giving the learner something for free – even better!

#5 Save the leftovers

Remember when I told you to hold onto all that content that falls into your “nice to know” bucket?

As you’re working through the essential content of your course, begin organizing (or at least saving) the content you’re cutting into potential future courses.

This is an easy and efficient way to build out courses for the future. It’ll also help you feel better about not taking anything away from your learners – they’ll get it when the time is right.

I just released the Ultimate ELearning Bundle, which includes Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction and Agile ELearning Development courses; How to Build ELearning Scenarios masterclass; and the How to Solve 10 Major Challenges that ELearning Professionals Encounter eBook. 

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