WSL and eLearning

Since there is no face-to-face human interaction, major muscle movement or direct experience of the external world, the sensory and emotional "bandwidth" available in eLearning is more limited than in social learning. Accordingly, in eLearning it is imperative to actively and consistently engage the emotions.

Current findings from cognitive neuroscience point to the critical role that the emotions play in motivation, memory and learning. There is growing recognition of the role of emotions in eLearning.

Consider those things that get our attention. They get our attention precisely because they engage the emotional mind. Our attention goes to that which is emotionally engaging, often before conscious thought occurs. We "feel drawn" to a beautiful scene, and only then do we think about the scene. The secret to gaining and keeping an eLearning user's attention is the focused use of things that get our attention, that engage the emotions:

Other people



The unexpected







At other times, through our thoughts we also engage the emotions. This happens as a matter of course whenever we identify (by thinking!) something as important to us. For example:

  • Anything that directly relates to my cherished values
  • An insight I arrive at myself
  • Anything that immediately helps me complete a current task
  • Anything which helps me or my loved ones survive and thrive
  • And so on

Click to read Storytelling at a Distance, Lisa Neal’s paper on storytelling in eLearning.




Whole-System LearningEngaging head, heart and hands.