Most trainers complain that the eLearning course participants communicate with the trainer, but not with their peers! Some even complain of total lack of participation. Learner buy-in is a common problem, and trainers need to learn how to secure participation early on and keep it going as the course progresses. In this article, we’ll share a few suggestions on how to promote your course participation as a trainer.
Participation: a crucial challenge in eLearning course creation
So, you have launched this awesome eLearning course recently. You’re certain that it’ll be a raving success, because it is based directly on the needs of your organization and what the employees demand. Very soon, you realize that participants are performing well – that is, they complete their readings and assignments on time and perform in quizzes. One caveat: they barely speak to each other.
Now, as eLearning professionals, we understand the significance of online collaboration. eLearning is not about remote learning. Rather, it should ideally be all about collaborative learning. You just built a great eLearning course, so why haven’t they come yet?
You’re 9 steps away from eLearning course paricipation rocketing
Learner buy-in implies the willingness of learners to participate in an online course. How can the trainer or the course facilitator ensure that they have the right approach towards securing learner buy-in? Here’s what the experts say:
1. At the onset of the course, establish clear participation guidelines. Have all participants agree to these guidelines. This creates a sense of duty to collaborate from the beginning. A great way to establish rules that will be adhered to is to involve participants is creating those rules!
Beware, your learners may not want to create the rules from scratch (they may not know what rules they really need for an effective eLearning experience). As an instructor, you can provide a list of rules, each accompanied by a voting option. You can calculate the most and the least favorite rules, discuss the results, and finally decide based on consensus.
2. State clearly how participation will be graded, the weight it carries towards the total grading scheme and the extra points for quality of comments. The above strategy for rule creation should motivate learners more than just points do!
3. Share a course syllabus that is simple and easy to follow, but is open for changes requested by anyone.
4. Estimate and state clearly the total time needed for participating satisfactorily in the eLearning course. The minimum time required is usually not that much, motivating learners to meet participation deadlines.
A good practice is to share the previous course’s post-course survey, anonymously. Share the data that relates to the question: What is the total number of contact hours you spent participating and collaborating with members? Tally the number of hours spent in collaboration with grades and performance. Leave the math to your learners, they can figure out how much they need to take part in the course, actively.
5. Create an eLearning environment that is welcoming, easy to navigate and promotes message posting. Take a still shot of the dashboard and label it with labeling software. This should help first-timers to navigate easily.
6. Be a positive role model when it comes to participation. Make sure you have a strong social presence as a trainer. Be visible online on a daily basis or when learners expect you to be available. This will help boost trust within your learning community.
7. Call learners who are lagging behind in their postings or discussions to help them catch-up. You wouldn’t believe the power of a personal word from the instructor!
8. Assess the experience level of all learners when they send you their introductions. Relay to the class as an announcement how talented and experienced their peers are. Give out recognition to notable people. Ask them questions in a common area. This helps others post their questions too.
9. If possible, instead of introductions being posted to you, have each participant create a single page on the learning management system, that has their photograph, videos, and other relevant information about them. This creates a very strong social presence and a better sense of community.
A great trainer with the appropriate attitude is needed to realize that there are real people behind the messages posted in their courses. These people have lives, needs, and expectations. Trainers should be prepared to indulge in a little humor and making the eLearning environment fun and approachable.
Learner participation boosters: engaged!
The lack of online collaboration has become one of the leading reasons for eLearning dissatisfaction. Trainers need to explain the importance that peer and mentor interchanges have in creating a deeper learning experience.
A great way to motivate learners is to talk about experiences and highlight projects of the participants. Peers may want to hear the opinion of a person who impresses them. They are also more willing to share their two cents in return. Trainers should follow these practices to promote a healthier online collaborative environment.
Don’t forget to share with us your online community formation struggles. Participate first!