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Using AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action in Different Contexts

What is AIDA?

"AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action, and can be used to describe the sequence of events that goes into making someone want to buy your product or service" (Bean, 2014).

The Accidental Instructional Designer book cover

While author Cammy Bean uses AIDA, a classic copywriting model, to e-learning - I think the same concept can be applied in a wide variety of online settings. But first, let's run though what goes into each step.

Attention - "What is your hook? How do you pull the learner in and get him to sit up and notice your program in the first place?"

Interest - "You capture a potential customer's interest by focusing on the advantages and benefits of your product and service, not by doing a feature dump."

Desire - Play on the desires of your customers - "If you use our product you'll be sexier, stronger, smarter, and really, really cool."

Action - This part is about having the consumer go out and purchase or do something about what they were just presented.

While this sequence makes sense in marketing and presenting e-learning content, I believe it can also be applied in online learning. Let's explore some different ways AIDA can be used in an online classroom.

1. Course Announcements

Often times, instructors will create a weekly online announcement either via text or video to let the learners know what the expectations are for that week. During this time, the instructor may review the objectives, assignments, content, etc. By using the AIDA model, announcements can be set up to first, hook your students attention. This can be done by sharing a personal story (this also helps with social presence). Next, you capture their interest by relating the content of the week to something they can directly use in their own environments. Working with the interest piece, you then play on their desire - why should they know about this information and how can this information benefit them? Lastly, action requires the learners to apply their new information by practicing what they have just learned.

2. Modules

In the same method as described in the course announcements, this process can be used to develop and hook users to complete modules or separate e-leaning content within a course.

3. Assignments

When having learners take the new content and apply it in an assignment assessment - you can follow the same AIDA concepts. First, you can grab the students attention by having them use their own experiences, their own interests, their own desires to create an assignment that is relevant to them. The learners are able to then take action and complete the assignment. You, as the instructor, are able to test their understanding on the objectives or skills they need while they work on a project that is important to them. It's a win-win.

These are only a few different ways that AIDA can be used in the online learning environment. One of the most interesting aspects of this idea is how it can help you create and develop online content to really engage your students in the bigger conversation. While it may not be a straight model or theory to follow step-by-step, it does have great meaning behind it. I wasn't aware of this concept before reading Bean's work but I'm glad I ran into it. Are there others out there that have heard of this concept? Have you used AIDA or its' concepts in your own ID experiences? If this a new concept to you - do you agree that it could be helpful in designing online materials? If so, please share with the group!


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