5 simple ways to engage and motivate learners
There are five key learner engagement tactics that can make a huge difference to boosting a learner’s enthusiasm for new knowledge and skills. What’s great about these tactics is that they can be applied across different courses. In fact, these learner engagement tips can be considered as best practices for motivating every learner, no matter the type of training content.
1. Set clear learning goals
Learners perform better when they know what exactly is expected of them. Setting and communicating clear learning goals in a language that they can relate to is one of the key learner engagement strategies for capturing an audience’s attention right from the start.
Understanding your learners’ development needs and how they relate to broader business goals is an important first step. That could involve simple surveys asking learners about their previous learning experiences. Light testing also helps determine the gap between current skill levels and those required by business standards.
Invest some time in understanding the unique needs of each learner. In any eLearning course, there should be some overlap between the goals of a course and the personal goals of the learner. For example, a communications course should take into account the personal goals of a learner who seeks to improve their self-confidence in high-pressure communication scenarios, such as salary negotiations.
To really encourage learners to invest emotionally in the course from the get-go, consider opening the course with a personal goal-setting activity. For instance, learners could be asked to outline their expectations of their upcoming learning experience.
2. Make learning convenient
Convenience is no longer just a nice-to-have. Today, keeping learners engaged and motivated is a necessity. A quality LMS is one of the most important tools for creating courses that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
Choose an LMS that provides access to learning material on mobile devices, both online and offline. Combining a quality LMS with just-in-time learning principles that focus on giving learners what they need, when they need it most, can be a powerful learner engagement strategy.
Structure content in small, manageable chunks that are easy to digest. Then, consider the types of quick-access resources that learners want to engage with frequently. These could be templates, tools, short videos, checklists or even infographics that summarize a procedure.
Do the same with assessment activities. When an assessment takes less than fifteen minutes to complete, completion rates always increase.
3. Get creative with course content
Boredom is a catalyst for causing learners to be disengaged. Stop learners from losing interest in a course by using active engagement strategies. Deliver learning content that is creative and fun to interact with. Just remember that fun is a means to an end, not the end goal itself.
Content formats that keep learners coming back for more include infographics, short, sharp video content, and scenario-based training activities that simulate real-life high-stakes decisions.
Combine creative learning material with microlearning principles to deliver the most important content up front (do not make learners dig for it), and refer learners to quality online resources, like YouTube videos.
4. Reward learners for engagement
As far as learner engagement strategies go, acknowledging the effort learners have invested in learning looks like an obvious choice. But how often is it actually applied?
Start by understanding the things that motivate and inspire learners to keep bettering themselves. Is it a friendly competition with peers? Is it a personal progress bar that provides a visible measure of improvement from one assessment to the next? Or is it, perhaps, acknowledgment from the course instructor or a subject-matter expert?
Leaderboards, badges, and certificates are simple but effective ways to incorporate reward cycles into learning experiences.
One learner engagement tactic is to offer a badge for each activity or piece of content completed. Another is to use a leaderboard to showcase high achievers. Certificates can be the most meaningful of rewards when it comes to motivating adults to learn, because they not only want to build their skills, but also to have something to show for it. Consider how completion and achievement can be acknowledged through certificates. If possible, have certificates signed by an authority figure, such as the instructor, a higher education institution, or the CEO.
Take acknowledgement a step further by having instructors share learner success stories in a meeting or through a short video. Here, they can highlight insightful observations made by learners, remarkable improvements, and other noteworthy achievements.
5. Create open communication channels
Many of the common barriers to learning can be resolved with improved communication. Design courses so that open communication channels are prioritized from the start and make sure that learners understand how to use them. Design these channels to allow feedback and opinions to be shared and make clear that each opinion is valued and heard.
As a strategy to promote learner engagement, online communication can involve casual group discussions, guided peer learning or informal spaces for asking questions. Both structured conversations (e.g., instructor-led) and unstructured conversations (e.g., learner-initiated) can contribute to a sense of community and open communication.
Learner engagement strategies for corporate learners
Corporate learners have additional needs next to their general needs as learners. The following learner engagement strategies are great for addressing these needs and improving the learning experience.
1. Offer real-life rewards for successful training and improved performance
Besides the types of acknowledgment mentioned earlier, corporate learners are also motivated by rewards that impact their everyday work life.
These rewards can include:
- Job expansions
- Paid time-off
- Performance bonuses
- Discounts in favorite stores
- Gym memberships
Other forms of reward can be more personal and employee-specific. For example, some employees are motivated by the opportunity to train other employees and share their knowledge and skills.
Public praise can also be a successful learner engagement tactic for corporate learners. Consider announcing the training courses’ highest achievers in a team or company meeting, so that the others are aware of their colleagues’ dedication and success.
2. Use on-the-job training and relatable simulations
Corporate learners are especially focused on translating their learning experiences into improved job performance. They are likely to be more engaged when asked to deal with real-life workplace issues like the ones they encounter in their job roles frequently.
Use practical ways to motivate learners, such as simulations, case studies and scenario-based activities that ring true to experience. That will keep corporate learners interested. Where relevant, design part of the course in a more practical way to incorporate job shadowing or other forms of on-the-job training. That gives learners an opportunity to practice their new skills and deal with tricky situations first-hand.
Supporting strategies to increase learner engagement and motivation
In this chapter, we discussed some practical tips and tactics for motivating and engaging learners. These strategies are important for all types of learners, including employees. However, these strategies are only achievable when supported by the most suitable LMS solution that comes with rich features and advanced flexibility.
In the next chapter, we will take a closer look at such features and how an LMS can be used to motivate and engage learners.