Posted on 13th June, 2019 by Kathryn Nixon
High learner engagement is the ‘holy grail’ for many L&D teams and there are a wide range of different tactics and design approaches you can try in your quest to deliver engaging learning. In this blog post, we explore what’s really needed to create engaging learning.
When you think of engaging learning, you may start thinking about courses packed with video and animation or complex interactions. You might think about gamification, interactive scenarios, or even VR experiences.
And while these tactics can be engaging to learners, they’re not a magic bullet. Creating engaging learning is less about deciding what mix of media or interactions to use and more about really getting to the root of your learners’ needs and their motivations.
In a recent LEO Learning webinar, our team of learning experts offered their thoughts on how to design engaging learning and three key messages were clear:
- Make it relevant
- Make it meaningful
- Make it personalized
In the rest of this article, we’re going to explore how you can meet each of these requirements to deliver learning that your learners really respond to.
Engaging Learning: Make it Relevant
For learning to land, it’s really important to consider context. For example, creating a range of immersive scenarios can be a great approach to engagement but if your learners can only spare ten minutes to learn on their daily commute or between meetings, then this approach is unlikely to engage them.
Considering the context of your learning means delving into the:
- Who: Find out about your learners. Conduct surveys and focus groups. Understand what they want from learning and their motivations to learn.
- What: Capture what your learning needs to achieve and focus on defining a clear set of learning outcomes.
- Why: Understand your learners’ motivations to learn and their attitudes to learning.
- When: What are the conditions in which your learners will complete learning?
- How: Your learning needs to be accessible. Learning content with all the ‘bells and whistles’ won’t be engaging if it’s not easy to access and navigate.
Conducting this kind of research and due diligence will mean your learning is attuned to your learner’s needs and is designed to meet them where they are. In today’s busy workplaces, no one wants to feel like their time is being wasted. Today’s learners need highly relevant learning that caters to their needs and working practices. Taking the time to understand this is crucial to engagement.
Engaging Learning: Make it Meaningful
Your learning needs to mean something to your learners. This ties back to understanding the ‘why’—identifying your learners’ motivations to learn.
For example, in a leadership training program we designed for medical professionals, we opened the course with a video from a patient. She told the story of a life-changing accident and how she had been able to recover with the help and support of a dedicated medical team. The video appealed to the motivations of this particular set of learners: “How can I make a difference?”, “How can I help?”.
Using stories (real and fictional) is often a great tactic here. Stories can create a strong emotional connection with the learning. Whether your learners have a high motivation to learn or not, you can create that motivation and drive using carefully crafted stories that communicate the ‘WIIFM question’ (“What’s in it for me?”).
Outside of the course itself, you can think about creating a comms program that ‘tells the story’ of your learning to drive interest and motivation. Promoting your course and outlining to learners why it’s important to the business is another way to generate meaning and motivation.
Engaging Learning: Make it Personalized
It’s unlikely that all of the learners who take your course or program will have the same needs and requirements—after all, everyone is individual.
Rather than deliver exactly the same training to everyone, we now have tools and technologies that enable us to tailor and personalize learning so that every learner’s experience is highly relevant and streamlined.
Personalization can either deliver a tailored learning journey to the learner or give them the flexibility to choose based on a set of recommendations.
At LEO Learning, we personalize courses in a number of different ways. For example by:
Role, department or team
Ensure your content is relevant to a learner’s particular position in the business.
Competence and pre-existing knowledge
Reward learners who are more knowledgeable by reducing the amount of learning they have to complete by assessing their pre-existing knowledge or level of competence upfront. Give those who need more support the right content based on their weaknesses.
Knowledge and skills aren’t useful if learners aren’t confident in their own abilities. Asking questions that ascertain a learner’s level of confidence means you can personalize their learning to better support them and demonstrates you are catering to their needs.
If you’re delivering a curated learning program with a range of different learning assets, you can help learners create their own learning journey by adding filters to sort content. This could be by media type or duration.
Again, personalization comes back to making the learning relevant, giving learners what they need in a way that suits how and when they learn. Providing choice is also a valuable engagement tool and demonstrates you have thought about your learner as an individual.
Get More Insights on Learner Engagement and Experience
This article looks at just a few of the insights from our Digital Learning 101: Learner Experience and Engagement webinar.