Stimulating a community of adult, online learners can seem an insurmountable task given the challenges it poses. Trainees on a distance-learning course are autonomous and the activities are often asynchronous (i.e. no simultaneous exchange between learners and trainers). Several tools exist, however, to help you to transform a boring teaching experience into an engaging and stimulating experience. Discover our tips in this article.
State the aims, objectives and benefits of the course.
It is vital that your learners properly understand the aims and objectives of the e-learning course they are in the process of following. Will this course enable them to acquire a new management qualification essential for their career development? Or will it enable sales reps to increase their sales thanks to a better understanding of their customers through concrete scenarios?
It may seem obvious to you, but your learners are not always aware of the goals available to them by taking part in your course, especially if they are under pressure (from their management, for example) to take a given module. The aims and objectives must be clearly explained before the course even begins and must be recalled during the first few minutes of your first class. Don’t hesitate to accompany these goals with figures, were possible.
Lastly, we can’t advise you enough to point out the benefits of each training module. This is an excellent way of stimulating learners. You can, for example, state at beginning of your e-learning module that ‘at the end of this class, you will have identified your customers’ main obstacles to purchasing and will have some turnkey solutions for resolving them.’
Draw inspiration from actual situations encountered by learners
In order for learners to fully engage in their training process, they must be able to project themselves in the examples or situations you propose. When designing your course, don’t hesitate to ask the company’s management or your future trainees for situations that crop up in their day-to-day work and the challenges they face. Feel free to use the pre-training questionnaire to collect this kind of information. The aim of your course must be to help them resolve the concrete problems they encounter in their day-to-day work.
Creating a training programme including precise deadlines
While e-learning gives learners a certain degree of autonomy to absorb the information at their own pace, you must still provide the framework. Whether in terms of satisfaction surveys, games, reports or practical exercises, any activity you propose must include a time limit. This can vary depending on the type of activity proposed, the type of module and the audience in question.
Reward your learners
The most common types of reward proposed by training companies or organizations are in the form of a certification or professional qualification. These can motivate your trainees and encourage them to complete all their training modules. What about courses you propose that don’t lead to any certification or qualification, however? In this case, you can always provide proof of the effectiveness of your training: by including testimonials by former participants confirming the benefits of your course or statements by business experts with a certain legitimacy in the field certifying the effectiveness and relevance of your course.
You can also reward your trainees by organizing challenges in the form of educational games in which you have them compete against each other and rank all the participants according to their results. Such games can take various forms: speed questionnaires, role plays, simulated scenarios, etc. There is no need to invest in cutting-edge high-tech solutions to inject an element of fun into your course.
You can reward all the participants by offering them prizes, which can take a variety of forms depending on the course and the profile of your audience. You are strongly advised to use rewards connected to the course: a ticket for a seminar or event, for example, or the opportunity to meet a renowned expert in the field.
Create interactions with learners
Many e-learning tools enable you to generate exchanges and interactions between your trainees. Discussion forums are certainly the most widespread, provided certain rules of good conduct are followed and you facilitate this space by asking the participants questions and stimulating discussions, for example. Some e-learning platforms also propose discussion forums with the possibility of sharing text or video files. In addition, certain social media features (likes, hearts, etc.) can be added to further increase learner engagement.
Virtual classes also constitute effective levers for generating interaction, as they enable synchronous exchanges between the trainer and the learners.
Make up stories!
Adults and children alike love stories, which enable them to switch off and escape to new, imaginary worlds. Storytelling can also be a lever for stimulating learner engagement in training too. Your stories must trigger emotions and be inspired by real-life situations and problems experienced by your learners. These stories can, for example, be told by voice-over, against a background of ambient music.
Forget your role as trainer
In an e-learning training course, you fulfil several roles: that of a trainer, a facilitator and also a learner yourself. You can, in effect, hand the role of trainer over to the learners and ask them to share their knowledge and expertise by creating resources for sharing with the other learners, such as files, blogs and websites. Why not ask your trainees to make a video to explain to their colleagues the key points covered in the course? These exercises aim to put into practice the information and skills learned and encourage memorization.
Divide your training modules up into different topics
Dividing a training module into different topics makes it possible to improve the retention of information by your trainees and vary the pace of the course. By splitting the course into several parts, you can include a variety of activities. You can, for example, follow up a video with a quiz. Apart from testing your trainees’ knowledge, this also enables you to stimulate your learners and spark a passion for the course.
This article has given you various tips to help you motivate adult learners. This list is far from exhaustive, however, and there are many other ways to stimulate your trainees. The important thing is to maintain a constant link to your community of learners and adapt your courses depending on their needs and expectations, in order to create ever more engaging and surprising learning experiences.
After obtaining a Master’s degree in Digital Communication from INSEEC Paris, I quickly specialized in drafting optimized content and online community management. After working for various IT and B2C players, I discovered the fascinating world of professional training and turned my hand to defining marketing strategies for training companies. On Digiformag, I explain and analyse the impact of the professional training reform on training organizations.