Learner engagement is not always as high as we might hope in the training world, particularly when it comes to distance training. A lack of regularity, supervision or interest for modules sometimes create a barrier between the learner and their trainer. In e-learning, the distance involved imposes regular communication: you can’t tell whether someone is running out of energy or bring a lost learner back into the fold if you don’t talk to them. To avoid as many pitfalls as possible, discover 10 CrossKnowledge tips for encouraging learner engagement.
Tip no. 1: remind them of the potential benefits of the training
As a trainer, take the opportunity at the start of the session to remind the participants of the various stages and ultimate goal of your course. Rather than a simple explanation, try adopting a marketing approach: the customer benefit. Present what the trainees are going to learn and how they will be able to use it in their work to achieve their own goals, then finally how it could be of use in another position or to help them in their career development. You could, for example, say, ‘On this project management course, you are going to learn how to manage a schedule, organize your tasks, manage a budget and communicate with any type of contact. You will therefore be in a position to manage your team’s projects and its members more effectively. This training will enable you to apply for project leader positions and will give you concrete skills to become a manager.’
Tips no. 2: use deadlines
Use the fact that many of us tend to work best at the approach of a deadline. In an autonomous or near-autonomous e-learning context, set several deadlines for deliverables or exercises. This will enable your trainees to plan their work and adhere to the training schedule. Send them text message or email reminders.
Tip no. 3: highlight the reward
The most important proof of success at the end of a course is certification. If your e-learning course leads to certification or forms part of a programme resulting in certification, you can be sure of a good rate of completion. The learners known why they are taking the modules and for what purpose.
Tip no. 4: use team spirit
Peer coaching works very well in a distance-learning course: the motivation of one learner increases that of their partner. Often used in daily life (to stick to a good resolution or to work out regularly, for example), peer support has the same benefits in the learning phase. The group supports and motivates each other and the members pool their experience to achieve a common goal. Organize group exercises and set up teams to work on deliverables (one group creates the schedule while another budgets the project, for example).
Tip no. 5: involve the managers
Don’t hesitate to get the managers and directors involved throughout the training. They will have a practical approach to your training and can share information directly relevant to the trainees. They can explain that they need project managers to manage a certain customer or that each team must be able to self-manage itself, for example.
You can bring them in at the start of a session to talk about the goals (tip no. 1) or to correct deliverables (tip no. 2). They will be all the more engaged and engaging if the deliverables correspond to their day-to-day needs and expectations.
Tip no. 6: encourage the community
When you have a whole group of learners, build a community. Encourage exchanges between participants, create small groups or work on collaborative projects. Being part of a group and the group pressure this imposes encourages action and limits procrastination.
Also make use of peer-learning methods and the pooling of experience.
Tip no. 7: enhance the user experience
There can be no engagement without effective equipment! If your screen freezes, you have a poor connection or the sound is inaudible, your audience will quickly lose interest.
According to CrossKnowledge, one additional click on an e-learning platform reduces the use rate by 15 to 20%. Look at e-commerce: the more accessible the pages, the more visitors they get.
Tip no 8: consider the training in the context of the learner’s career
When you are working on a problem encountered by your trainee at that very moment, you naturally increase their interest in the e-learning course. If you explain how to manage a schedule when they are responsible for this task now, not in a hypothetical future, you will better capture and retain their attention.
Tip no. 9: think pull, not push
If, up until now, you have simply placed a link on the company intranet, you have not maximized your chances of success. Rather than pushing participation via emails, consider how you can make your modules accessible everywhere. When sessions are accessible on a phone, a computer or a tablet, there is a strong chance that the rate of engagement will improve.
Simply communicating your offer is not enough: you must be present wherever your trainees look for training. As well as creating an e-learning catalogue, integrate internal social networks and collaborative tools.
Tip no. 10: provide a customized programme
As Ruth C. Clark and Richard E. Mayer explain in ‘E-learning and the Science of Instruction’, the more customized your training is, the more your trainees will participate. If your training is composed of a set of independent modules, you can guide your trainees to select only those modules relevant to them. To do this, ask them questions or have them fill in a self-assessment form at the start of the session and only propose modules corresponding to their responses. It is a good idea to propose a second self-assessment at the end of the course so that the learner can appreciate their progress.
Throughout and alongside the course, suggest additional modules that the learners may find of use.
This can counter any negative effects of solitude and a lack of motivation that distance-learning can produce. Focus on human exchanges, team spirit, personalized contact and the involvement of all. In terms of technology, remember to position yourself on platforms that list training courses or in company intranets and make sure you have a good computer, Wi-Fi connection and microphone. Thanks to these tips, you have every chance of achieving and even surpassing your goals!
With a Master’s degree in Communication from Science Po Grenoble, I main work in the field of B2B. After various experiences in the web, I specialized in content creation, optimization and management. I work in the fields of training, HR and digital technology. I am particularly interested in new teaching methods and the added value of digital technology in learning.