Instructional Design

How to Engineer “Aha!” Moments In Your Training

It’s the Holy Grail for L&D professionals: that moment when learners go from passive participants to involved champions because they had an “aha” moment. The “aha” moment is a much-sought after, often-misunderstood facet of training, but it doesn’t have to be a slippery, illusive concept. By taking certain steps, it’s possible to engineer that lightbulb moment for learners to suddenly grasp new concepts and allow them to change their behavior.

Hoping to create your own learning “aha!” moment? Here’s how.

Put Learners in a Positive Mood

Mood has a major impact on learner understanding and retention. Using copy that is bright, pithy, and even funny (as appropriate to the topic at hand) can help boost learners’ moods so they’re in the right mind frame for their “aha!” moment. Get learners smiling first and then they’ll be more apt to engage throughout the training.

Create Clear Connections

Presenting information as standalone concepts means they’re likely to get lost in the shuffle. Instead, good instructional design should center on creating connections between existing knowledge and concepts. How does this new information relate to what learners already know? What insights can you share based on past experience? Connect new concepts to past associations, and your learners will get that moment of clarity and understanding.

Get Emotional

We don’t mean sharing your feelings and passing around the Kleenex; emotional connection in learning is more about proving the benefits on a personal level. This tells learners’ brains that the information is important and should be remembered, further engineering that “aha!” moment. When learners apply new information on a personal level, it proves they understand concepts on a deeper plane than just memorization.

Keep it Relevant

You might say that brains are highly efficient (or just slightly lazy). They constantly search for shortcuts to either retaining or discarding information, and they make snap decisions fairly quickly. If a learners’ brain subconsciously deems something irrelevant, it’s likely to dismiss the information and continue searching for data that is relevant. Therefore, to give learners an “aha!” moment, you need to stay on task. Make sure that all included media and data is hyper-relevant to the topic at hand.

Create Retrieval Opportunities

Learning something is one thing; internalizing it so that it changes behavior is another. The final step in engineering the perfect “aha!” moment is to make sure you offer chances for information retrieval after the training has concluded. Knowledge exercises, quizzes, and other checks make all the difference in making a short-term training become a long-term memory for learners.

You might not be able to predict exactly when learners will have their “aha!’ moment, but you can engineer learning modules and applications for the best possible chance for complete understanding. By creating training that is emotional and relevant, you might just be able to capture the Holy Grail of training.