Engaging the Passive Learner
Instructional Design

Engaging the Passive Learner

The world would have been perfect (near perfect) if learners would soak in knowledge and make a difference in the world around them. Indeed, we do have such learners, who actively seek online events, never miss an online activity, participate aggressively in collaborations and hand in A grade assessments.

These learners have the innate ability to convert knowledge into performance and hone their personal lives at the same time. They are a true inspiration in the learning community. Unfortunately, they are far and few in numbers.

The others are un-ceremonially pronounced as “passive” learners. These individuals seek, capture and absorb information but do not apply it beyond the virtual setting. You could say that they also turn in A grade assignments and similar assessments, but you do not see a change in their behavior or attitude in the work context.

Training managers and their team members are more perplexed when working with them post training than they were before! This is indeed an alarming trend that needs attention. The change from passive to active learning habits begins by tweaking the eLearning design, making it more interactive. Simply be mindful of these features in your course. If you already have them, place more emphasis in their application.

Here’s how you will convert a potential star performer from a passive learner to an active one:

Peer to Peer Collaboration

Without discussing what we learn and experience is like watching a movie without a debriefing session with friends. Human beings are social creatures. We need validation and input from our peers to feel good about our observations.

In our case, hook up your learners with each other in the form of collaborative projects, point-based discussion board activities and team based tasks. Also, introduce reflection exercises that are to be commented by peers through critique and insightful advice.

Writing out is truly more liberating that talking out! We share more information through text-based media as compared to voice messages. We also find ourselves undergoing the “aha” moments, or the moments of immense clarity in vision related to the content. These moments are only achieved when talking to each other.

Indeed, knowledge is generated when conversing with like-minded peers. Focusing on such activities forces passive learners to internalize new knowledge. Applying the new knowledge becomes natural and involuntary. Engage, engage and engage!

Discover the motivations of a passive learner

The more you know about your learners the more effective your courses will be. Find out the dreams, aspirations and future goals of your learners. Try to create case studies and vignettes related to their goals. Demonstrate how their goals will be achieved when they complete the course successfully.

Finding out what your passive learners really want can help you tap into their potential for better performance. Generate a pre-course survey for this cause if you have to. Go on, it’s worth the time and effort!

Power over their eLearning

Adult learning 101 tells us that we prefer learning experiences that are non-conforming. We avoid situations that remind us of grammar schools!

Learners want to have control over their learning. Let them decide which chapter to complete and how long they need to complete a chapter. Provide access to resources, tips, software tools, freebies and access to online events in your course.

Request them to share their supplementary activities with peers. Place them in a spot light. Make them feel important in terms of the knowledge they will share in the learning community. Watch these passive learners become active facilitators for your course!

Appeal to the eye

Forget about lengthy modules with lines of monotonous text. Replace text with your face. Really, no kidding!

Record your video and narrate the text yourself. Listening to a human is more appealing than reading cold text. Use visuals, music, dramatic sound effects, use avatars, storylines – in fact, use any technique that creates uniqueness in this learning experience.

Passive learners fall into the rut of learning and passing quizzes at the end of the unit easily, without really grasping the action steps in the content. Avoid the rut by breaking the text with images and other exciting multimedia easily available.

Make it personal

If your eLearning content is not relatable to your learner – meaning, they cannot connect it with their immediate surrounding, they won’t absorb it as intended. If they cannot get the meaning or the value behind the learning tasks, they won’t apply them!

Creating a connection key is crucial. Use diagrams and scenario settings that mimic the real world setting of the learner. Use business names and supermarket names that are found in their real world. Narrate experiences they may go through as consumers, parents, employees and so forth.

Creating emotionally compelling narratives will create involved learners. Once your passive learners realize the worth of their learning tasks, they will contribute to it by sharing their unique experiences and problem-solving strategies. Don’t be surprised when they apply the strategies taught in your course!

Develop an eLearning culture

Recognition and reward systems are pivotal in developing learning cultures. Passive learners will participate more to earn gamification badges, awards, points and titles in the learning community. This establishes healthy learning, sharing and application habits.

Passive learners will also be the ones who will point out the problems with the current eLearning environment. This is an invaluable piece of information that can be used to further improve your courses. Learners who feel they are contributing to the learning culture will experience the responsibility to utilize the knowledge as an example and to improve performance at work.

Creating fulling engaged and immersive learning environments is easy, once you know the exact areas that need your attention.

Save time, frustration and money with TalentLMS, the most-affordable and user-friendly learning management system on the market. Try it for free for as long as you want and discover why our customers consistently give us 4.5 stars (out of 5!)

Try for free!

Start your eLearning portal in 30 seconds!

Get started it's free!

TalentLMS is free to use for as long as you want! You can always upgrade to a paid plan to get much more!