Keep Your Learners Engaged in eLearning
eLearning is such a great way to ensure that your learners, whether in the same building, across the country or around the world, are getting the same resources without having to worry about what different instructors bring to the table. If you need to be able to train your workforce to the same standard, or if you need to be able to update courseware quickly and easily, eLearning is the way to go.
But no matter how much effort you put into developing your eLearning, it will only be successful if it finds an audience. You can encourage people to take a course with all the incentives you want, but if they aren't engaged with what you are offering, your training won't be a success. Let's take a look at what you can do to avoid this.
We have talked elsewhere of how to build engaging eLearning. Whether you're building your own courseware or having it built for you, you should ensure it:
- Is intuitive and user friendly
- Features plenty of variety
- Aligns with your objectives
- Features a smart use of graphics and videos
But that's when you're building the eLearning - valuable tips of course, but how about once it's already built? Even if you have designed a great course, there's a chance that, for some reason, it might not connect with your learners. What can you do to keep your learners engaged after the courseware has been delivered?
Put Someone on Their Team: No matter how well-designed your eLearning is, learning online can be an isolating experience. Blended learning combines the best of online learning and face-to-face interaction, which is why it is increasingly popular. You can take this same idea and build it into your courseware by using chat features that set your learner up for discussion groups or one on one with a mentor. What about including evaluation items that your learner can upload for feedback for comment. Create a sense of belonging for your learners and they will be much more likely to continue taking part in the learning you are providing. And remember to leverage your social media platforms too! They're a great way to get your learners sharing their experiences and connecting with their peers.
Set Them up for Success: Part of providing successful eLearning that really "lands" with your target audience is doing your research. Of course, before you start developing your courseware you want to complete a training needs analysis to figure out exactly what issues you are planning to address, but you also want to continue this process once the training has been deployed. Make sure you can pull the right reports, and get data that will show you if, say, there's an exam question that your learners are consistently getting wrong, or a module where you are seeing a lot of drop off. If your learners are all stopping at around the same point, it would seem to suggest that something is amiss in the course. Unfortunately, if an eLearning course is making your learners feel inadequate, they won't be as motivated to keep going. There's a difference between pushing people out of their comfort zone and making them feel like they don't know something they should. Done correctly, a challenge can be motivating, done incorrectly? The results will be disastrous. So what can you do? Make sure the material is at the right level for your learners; set up prerequisites if necessary, and make sure you have the right reporting features, to get the metrics you need.
Make it Fun: Your gym uses it, the language app on your phone uses it, you even use it for your kids' chore chart. Why does it seem like point scoring and leaderboards are everywhere all of a sudden? Because these gamification techniques work. We've talked about the effectiveness of gamification and the bottom line is that it really is a great way to motivate learners to continue with their eLearning. Never underestimate how much people want to stay in the top 10 of their learning group, or achieve "platinum" status!
Developing courseware can be a huge investment of both time and money. You do your research and put a lot of effort into presenting a course that will meet your learning objectives. But what you do after the course is deployed is really just as important. This article has looked at some key ways you can ensure you keep your learners engaged with the eLearning you have worked so hard on.
Shauna graduated from the University of Toronto in 2002 with a Master of Arts in English before moving home to Calgary to work in the fast-paced, detail-oriented oil and gas industry. Now certified as a technical writer, Shauna is comfortable writing in a variety of styles, and for a variety of audiences.