A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to speak at the HR Core Academy conference in Brussels. The subject of the presentation was around the successful engagement and adoption of learning, to which I also explained the role that mobile learning can play here.
In the second of a two-part posting, I will summarise my thoughts around improving learning engagement.
In order to create learning that truly engages the learner, here are some of the things we need to consider.
Strong learning hook
Every piece of learning should start with a learning hook that draws the learner into the content. Make sure you work with the business stakeholder and come up with a hook that is directly related to the main business goal of the training. Making this connection at the start can help keep the learning that follows focused and engaging.
It goes without saying that engaging content helps to improve engagement. So work hard on keeping the learner connected to each piece of content. Consider the formats you use and try to make the learner “do something” on every screen. It can be difficult I know, but try to avoid too much pure reading.
Including as much appropriate interaction in your content is a proven factor for keeping a learner engaged. When they are responding to prompts, they are less distracted by what’s around them and appropriate interactions that make the learners think – rather than just read – help to embed the learning. If nothing else, think about how you can use questions to deliver each learning point.
When we think of “immersive” content, there is a natural tendency to think of higher budget interventions and it’s true that courseware that puts the learner into realistic scenarios, where they may take on a role and undertake the learning in more of hands-on simulated way, can be expensive. But just by combining video clips and straightforward questioning paths found in your typical rapid authoring tool, you can go some way to create the same type of experience.
The business world has already seen the value of gamification in the marketing and communications space, so L&D has a bit of catching up to do. But using games for learning – and building the elements of gaming that keep people playing and engaged into our courses – are starting to play a larger role in corporate learning and development.
Learning has always been a social experience, though over the last two decades, the mass arrival of self-paced learning has often overlooked this fact. But “digital” is synonymous with collaboration, so look for ways to integrate a collaborative experience into your digital offerings. Although most tools don’t yet do this, some vendors are already hard-coding social elements into their custom learning solutions.
I’ve long argued that our learners simply don’t have to the time to learn everything we “think” they need to know. So use pre-assessments and other diagnostics to help them pinpoint just where their skill and knowledge gaps lie, so they can focus on those and minimise their “time in learning”. Think how much more engaging a compliance course would be if you only had to do small bits of it.
We – myself included – often cite the benefits of sometimes taking the learner out of their real world, just so they could hone in on the key skills and knowledge, without being distracted by the course’s sometimes different view of the real world. And that’s still valid. But if the learning is more straightforward and we’re seeking to improve engagement, then look to set the learning in the context of the learner’s role. And that might mean creating different “flavours”, where subtle nuances may make a difference.
Over the years, I’ve seen how learning engagement has been higher with certain suites of content, when it’s been attributed to a respected educational brand. And the more senior the audience, the more they respond when they respect and value the originator of the content. So consider carefully your sources and, as well as involving senior figures in content creation, ask who they regard as thought-leaders in their space and incorporate the latters’ ideas too.
I’m a big fan of user-generated content and involving subject matter experts directly in the delivery of learning. The authenticity that comes with this is very valuable when it comes to engaging the learner. So include video clips of internal champions introducing the benefits of the learning and use them too to speak directly to the learner to win over hearts and minds.