There’s no doubt that trends in educational technology and eLearning are changing the landscape of management training, offering improvements in training programs’ reach, accessibility, and outcomes. And while there’s reason to be excited about the potential of new training applications and delivery methods – like LMS, simulations, video & mobile – I’m quick to acknowledge that there is no silver bullet when it comes to earning engaged, motivated, and invested learners.
Convincing learners to invest in new training content – whatever the delivery method – is no easy task. And yet, engagement is one of the most important factors for successful training programs. Learner engagement is a key predictor of learning retention as well as participant satisfaction, which means you can’t afford to shell out training content that doesn’t capture your audience’s attention immediately and give them a reason to invest in it.
Below I’ve pulled together a list of 10 quickfire ways to earn learner engagement and produce learning content that your employees see as worthy of their investment. This is by no means a comprehensive guide on learner engagement, rather a pocket guide for general principles and guidelines to follow.
#1. Know your audience
Today’s learner can recognize one-size-fits-all training content from a mile away, and, recognizing that it’s not tailor-made for them, will quickly disengage. Learning needs also change rapidly and are subject to company environment, size, and turnover rate. This means you need to update training content frequently, incorporating feedback received from the most recent iteration.
#2. Keep it simple
Limit training sessions or modules to core topics – keeping in mind that while attention spans today seem shorter than ever, learner expectations are at their highest.
#3. Define your goals
Learn to develop content for your employees in accordance with your organizational learning goals – whether you outsource training materials, build them in-house, or use some combination of the two, you’ll want to revisit your learning goals often and ensure that content development can be clearly linked to them.
#4. Keep material relevant
Early on in the training content, be explicit about how this training will have an impact on learners’ daily tasks and routine. Give them a reason to care about the training by drawing a connection between the learning material and their contributions to the business.
#5. Make it interactive
Turning training into an interactive experience can have a huge impact on engagement. Gamification and simulations are great ways to achieve this and instill a little healthy competition. Social learning – through blogs, social shares, and online forums – is also another way to let employees engage through interaction and learn from each other.
“There is no silver bullet when it comes to earning engaged, motivated, & invested learners”
#6. Encourage teamwork and collaboration
Teamwork and collaboration have can have a direct impact on a learners’ sense of responsibility, accountability, trust, and openness. Fostering engagement through these social bonds can have a positive impact on learning outcomes as well as the broader organizational culture.
#7. Embrace Technology
As instructional designer Zsolt Olah explains, employees are engaged. They learn continuously – through YouTube, their personal social media accounts, and forums like Quora and Reddit. It’s your job to make training content that meets them wherever it is that they’re already learning through technology. Make your training mobile-friendly, make it cloud-accessible, wherever possible. We can’t say this often enough.
#8. Track Progress
Make learner progress visible and explicit – this not only creates a sense of accomplishment but helps learners internalize and take ownership of the new material, skills, or techniques they’ve acquired.
#9. Consider the company-wide culture
Studies show that employees who are engaged with the overall company will, in turn, be engaged in eLearning as well. When creating and evaluating training programs and learning goals, consider wider organizational culture values and principles relating to engagement.
#10. Recognize the importance of L&D
According to PwC, millienials will make up more than half the US workforce by 2020, and as such, getting your L&D strategies right is more important than ever. The millenial worker expects to learn – in fact, the amount of personal and career development opportunities available can be a major determinant as to whether they stay with or leave a company. This means that for today’s workforce, learner engagement can’t just be a goal, it needs to become the standard for all training content.
If you’d like to learn more about any of these tips or how you can improve learner engagement for your academic or corporate training program, I’d love to talk with you. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.