December 6, 2023

What are common digital distractions during eLearning?

People are easily distracted these days because smartphones are always within reach. In a work environment, meetings, deadlines, emails and messages with co-workers can even prevent employees from making online learning a priority. As an L&D professional, the goal is to create content that grabs their attention and keeps it long enough for them to absorb the information. But what digital distractions should you be aware of and how can you overcome them?

5 Digital Distractions You Should Be Aware Of

1. Social media

You check Facebook and Twitter and before you know it, an hour has passed. On average, we use social media for about two hours a day, which probably means that some of the time we spend on social media and on our phones is during work hours. Instead of solving tasks, including training, employees can turn their attention to watching videos on YouTube or checking comments on LinkedIn. This means you can use this to your advantage and incorporate social learning activities into your program.

2. Work communication

Whether working remotely or in the office, employees are bombarded with emails, virtual meetings and messages from the apps they use to communicate with their co-workers. Workplaces are fast-paced and require constant interaction between members of different teams. However, when an employee goes through an online lesson and receives an email or an invitation to a meeting, they turn their attention to the matter and completely abandon what they were doing before.

3. Multitasking

Employees tend to multitask. That’s how they learned to work and that’s how they do other tasks like online training. For example, they may think it’s no big deal if a lesson plays in the background while they send an important email. Or they may interrupt their virtual simulation to talk to the client. Ultimately, multitasking fragments employees’ attention and disrupts their learning process.

4. Notice

The notifications in question do not necessarily come from social media. A shopping app can alert them to new sales. A weather app can warn them of a thunderstorm. A game on their phone can remind them that it’s time to collect their daily reward. Disruptive notifications can be endless, and unless employees are truly invested in the learning process, they will be hard to resist. One option is to suggest that they put their phone on airplane mode if possible during the training process.

5. Confusing lesson design

External distractions cannot be controlled in some cases. But what about internal eye-catchers? A disorganized e-learning design can reduce productivity and cause employees to focus elsewhere. A cluttered layout with sidebars, menus and ads taking up space can be quite distracting. Material that is unclear or vague is also a problem. However, the tips below can help you streamline your design and help your students focus on the training task at hand.

How to reduce digital distractions

Create tasks with a timer

Consider creating a small challenge for your students. Design a task that requires their full attention for a short period of time so they can continue training. For example, set a timer for ten minutes inside a lesson or assignment. If they leave the platform, switch to another tab, or don’t move the mouse during those ten minutes, they have to repeat the lesson. The purpose of this is not to micromanage them, but to help them maintain their focus.

Simplify the design

Employees are overwhelmed with information from multiple sources, and you don’t want your course design to cause sensory overload. Try a minimalist approach with neutral colors and clear navigation icons. This brings a bit of zen to learning, so they won’t be tempted to check their emails to see if new orders have arrived or if a client has responded. Your course design should fundamentally reflect your students’ space, and clear courses will put them in the right frame of mind.

Create engaging content

The last thing employees want is to leave their important tasks aside and engage in boring online lessons. So create content that appeals to them and their personal interests or goals. For example, an infographic or a gamified lesson will keep them engaged rather than reading an online manual. You can even use virtual reality to train your employees to increase their immersion and facilitate hands-on experiences.

Customize online training

Design a course based on the experience, background, performance and knowledge of your students. You can also get their feedback or extract data from previous lessons, such as opt-in or participation statistics and bounce rates, and create something that fits your audience’s needs and preferences. Personalized online training can eliminate digital distractions and keep them focused on the subject.


Distractions have become more common as many aspects of our lives have been digitized. From social media to confusing lesson plans, employees can struggle to focus on training. Fortunately, there are ways to liven up the experience and ease the cognitive overload so they don’t get lost in their workouts. One of the best options is to hire an outsourcing partner to help you create immersive learning experiences that last. Our top list includes leading content providers for all your VR and AR training needs.

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