There is one word that separates successful training programs from not-so-effective ones: engagement. The lack of engagement affects not only the effectiveness of your training program but also the knowledge retention and productivity of your learners.
This is the reason why the most successful training programs involve their learners at every phase of the training cycle. More engaged learners mean highly motivated employees, which then results in better performance.
5 Learner Engagement Strategies That Work
The best way to engage learners is to make them active stakeholders in their own learning. So, here are five strategies that increase learner engagement for you to integrate into your training programs. Implement these to make your learning sessions more effective and your learners more motivated and productive.
1. Understand the needs and skills of your learners
One of the keys to implementing effective learner engagement strategies is to involve your learners as early as the data-gathering phase of the training cycle. While the standard practice is to take a look at performance data to determine learning needs and skill gaps, KPIs don’t necessarily do the whole work.
Numbers and metrics should be a source for analysis, of course, but they do not tell the entire story. The best way of uncovering your learners’ actual learning needs is through engagement.
Get the feedback straight from the learners themselves. Some of the approaches you can employ are interviews, observations, focus group discussions, surveys, and even informal hallway chit-chat. Personal interaction is one of the best ways to engage and motivate learners.
When it comes to analysis, if there is indeed a valid learning need or skill gap, numerical data will support the feedback gathered from your intended audience. Aside from ensuring that your courses and learning objectives stay relevant, learner engagement in the data-gathering phase also makes learners feel involved.
2. Use personalization
One sure-fire way of getting disengaged learners is to use generic courses. Relevance is the number one element that learners look for when it comes to training and development. And aside from the lessons and skills being applicable to real-life or the workplace, courses also have to be more attuned to your learners’ specific contexts.
To make your courses more relevant, you may want to steer clear of case studies on hypothetical situations. It will definitely be more helpful for your learners if your course content is reflective of the most common issues encountered in the workplace. This way they’ll feel they’re getting the help and knowledge they actually need.
Using personalization as one of your learner engagement strategies also involves addressing your learners’ contexts. This means that you need to customize courses based on your learners’ culture, language, and learning preferences as much as possible. For example, approaches and content that work in North America won’t be as effective in Asia or other regions.
3. Be open to communication and feedback
Another critical key to implementing effective learner engagement strategies is being open to communication and feedback.
While it may sound cliché, you always need to take to heart that communication is a two-way street. And having a relaxed and encouraging environment opens the avenues for communication. From a trainer who is approachable to delivering your training through a user-friendly online training platform, you always need to be mindful of the training experience you deliver.
As a facilitator of learning, you want your participants to be open to feedback and to openly communicate with you and their peers during sessions. The same openness also applies to you and the training team.
Once you have established these, don’t forget to evaluate your training program. Get feedback by asking what’s working and what needs improvement after every module. You can also roll out a training survey after the entire course is finished. To complete the program evaluation, ask for feedback on how effective the program is once the learners apply the learned skills at work – usually a month or so after the session.
4. Use interactivity
Implementing tech-enabled learner engagement strategies demands that you take on a different approach as compared to face-to-face sessions. Most asynchronous courses (and even synchronous ones) include limited facilitator intervention. This results in learners getting impatient or losing focus while taking the course – especially when facing text-heavy content or watching long explainer videos.
Your goal as a course creator is to keep your learners engaged at every step of training. And when it comes to online learning, increasing learner engagement means including interactive elements in your courses.
There are different ways on how you can include interactivity into your modules. In asynchronous courses, you can use pop quizzes, videos, and drag-and-drop activities. Other approaches for synchronous courses (like webinars) are polling, annotation tools, virtual breakout rooms, and shared whiteboards.
Also, make sure that your learning management system offers you the ability to create rich content. eFront, for example, natively integrates with H5P to help instructors create and deliver interactive courses. Using an online training system that opens opportunities for engaging your learners will make the course creation process easier for you and much more fun for the learners.
5. Overcome the barriers to engagement with a robust LMS
Of course, an LMS doesn’t only help if it boasts interactive course creation features. The fact alone that it offers the learners the flexibility to take the courses at their own pace and convenience can help learner engagement soar. The freedom they feel along with the fact that they can go back to repeat their training (or go look for that tip in that presentation) the time they need to, makes them feel that they’re actually in charge of what they’re learning. Which, eventually, makes them more confident and motivated to improve themselves.
But utilizing an LMS as part of your learner engagement strategy isn’t good only for your learners, but also for the training team. The ability to create and update courses faster, and to immediately deliver them worldwide makes the job much easier for you, too.
We hope this list of five strategies to promote learner engagement can help you create more engaging courses for your learners. Just always remember to involve them, at every phase of the training cycle – from data-gathering up to evaluation.
Engaging your learners and actively involving them in their own learning will make them feel empowered and motivated – and this fact alone is already a big step in implementing effective training programs. Now, all that’s left for you and your team is to ensure that you implement the right tactics and use the right tools to create engaging and compelling courses.
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