Ways to reduce cognitive load in eLearning

The learning process and retention of information are negatively impacted by information overload. Content creation is not the only responsibility of an instructional designer. They also need to design content that meets the needs of their learners. You should ensure that your learners can understand, process, and remember the information within your materials. There is a limited amount of space in the human brain, and everyone’s learning capacity is different. A cognitive load is a collective effort an individual expends in their brain to accomplish a task.

So, you should reduce cognitive load when creating an ideal learning environment. In this post, we’ll look at some effective tips for designing an eLearning course that reduces cognitive load.

Use micro-learning

The length of your course is a vital decision you need to make when you are creating an eLearning course. People are inclined to believe that a course should have a defined period. However, most courses are defined by their content. Thus, learning and development professionals pack too much information into a course to reduce its length. You may want to pick a specific time period to reduce cognitive load. People tend to lose concentration after 20 minutes. Thus, learners will lose their focus if the duration of the course is lengthy.

To avoid this from happening, make your content more digestible by breaking it up into smaller parts. This micro-learning can help learners learn quickly and retain for a longer time. To maximize your learning experience, be sure to include breaks when needed.

Use infographics 

Using visual information in eLearning is one of the best tips for reducing cognitive load. Visual memory is greater than anything. Thus, making your course content more meaningful with infographics can help reduce the length. The information you are distributing is easier to digest when you include relevant infographics. Using infographics for describing statistics and process flow is most effective. If you’re trying to explain a process, you should use infographics. Rather than describing the process in excessive detail, you could use a colorful diagram or chart.

Create an intuitive design

You can also create an intuitive user interface for eLearning design to reduce cognitive load. You have to provide what your learners expect in your designs for them to find them useful. Getting to know how your interface works is an important factor that takes learners’ time. If you want to avoid that, you should create an interface that is simple and easy to navigate. So, instructors and trainers need to design courses with user-friendly interfaces to ensure they spend as much time on courses as possible. The best way for designing your e-learning course is using an LMS. It offers various options for designs, themes, and templates to make your course look appealing and engaging. A few of the best LMS that are user-friendly are Docebo, Paycom, Lessonly, and many others.

Incorporate practical methods into learning

Having an eLearning course that is easy to retain is one of the most important things while creating one. When you allow your learners to have practical experience, they have the opportunity to apply the skills they’ve learned.

Applying practical methods to the design of your eLearning course can reduce cognitive load. By practicing, learners can develop critical thinking skills and apply their knowledge to solve problems. Your students will remember your course information for a long time if they do that. You can also use blended learning for this purpose.

Clarify and simplify your learning content 

The writing style you use in your eLearning course is vitally important. Learners are more likely to understand information that you convey when you write it clearly and concisely. It is best not to use irrelevant words. Also, useful links may help your learners grasp important concepts. If you’re creating an eLearning course, be sure that your content focuses on the topic you’re going to teach. 


We live in a complex world with an ocean of complex information that can overwhelm us. The limited capacity of our memory shouldn’t come as a surprise, since memory contains limited processing power. If working memory is overworked, or if a cognitive load is put on the learners, they may lose patience or lose understanding. During the learning process, cognitive load is an inherent component. The process of learning is actually enhanced by challenges and difficulties. 

Overwhelming or extraneous cognitive load, however, is not a benefit and can be controlled by the facilitator. Cognitive load that is not necessary for learning should be avoided. The less mental effort learners need to exert when learning new information, the more likely they are to be successful.

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