Imagine this: You are the instructional designer for your organization and given the task of developing interactive and engaging courses for your millennial workforce. You include the traditional form of learning, such as long winding content, and a few basic interactivities in your courses. Would that suffice to keep the learners engaged in the course? Well, the answer is a loud and clear ‘NO’. As an instructional designer, it is a constant battle to create courses that will help retain the attention span of learners. But how do you actively and effectively engage learners in an online course? Keep these few factors in mind as pre-instructional activities – motivate learners, inform what they can expect from the course, and ensure they have the prerequisite fund of knowledge to take up the course.
In this blog, I am going to list five reasonable techniques that will help you increase engagement in your eLearning courses. These reasons are not haphazard or strange, just simple solutions to everyday problems faced by Instructional Designers.
1. Leverage Existing Knowledge
Learning is different in adults. They will always gauge the importance of a course, based on their needs. Most adult learners will embrace a course if they feel it might add value to their existing skills or performance. So, to gauge what they know, and to tailor the current course to their needs, use pre-assessments. This will encourage learners for future courses. There are various ways to conduct pre-tests. You could conduct pre-tests in the form of surveys, assessments, sneak-peeks, mini games, and more. Pre-tests are the best way to assess and keep the focus on the instruction. It is also time saving as you can directly go to the depth of the subject, as you don’t have to teach things learners don’t need and they are more likely to learn sooner.
2. Capture Their Attention and Make Them Think
One of the best ways to increase and retain learners’ interest in a course is to capture their interest. You should keep in mind the success of the training is directly proportional to the ‘What’s In It for Me’ quotient. Learners will be attentive if the course manages to pique their interest. This can be done using statistics, data, and charts. You can also include video snippets in the course. Pose fluid questions, forcing learners to think about the content in a self-directed way. This does not have to be part of the course as such, it could be more like a trivia related to the course. Create scenarios to grasp your learners’ attention, which keeps them reading further. This strategy works best when catchy headlines, infographics, and animations are presented to them; this will give them a clearer picture of what is expected in a section of the course or module.
3. Promote Active Learning
A guaranteed way to promote engagement in eLearning courses is to incorporate active learning strategies in every element of the course design. For instance, you could use storytelling and humor in the course to make learning more interesting. Combine elements that promote different styles (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic) in the active learning process. For instance, kinesthetic learners are often physically adept. For such learners, you can add interactivities, while visual learners would prefer videos and animations. You can integrate a variety of teaching strategies to promote active learning, such as discussions, use of games, simulations, problem-solving, and case studies.
4. Leverage Microlearning
Another method to improve learner engagement is to assimilate microlearning. It is a known fact that smaller chunks of information increase retention and learning speed. When it comes to learning independently, learners need content that is in short bursts. Microlearning can be used in various formats, such as e-learning courses, a short one-page PDF, videos, animations, flashcards, etc. The bigger the content, the more fragments it is to be made into. In microlearning, modules are structured according to specific learning objectives. Microlearning is quick, and provides on-the-spot learning when you need bursts of knowledge immediately.
5. Use the Right Instruction Strategy
Many times, learners dread learning new things, owing to the methods involved. Learning is central to anything in the world. However, learning does not have to be boring. Choosing the right instructional design strategy is as important as using an instructional design strategy. A strategy is chosen after taking a few aspects such as the audience, subject, learning environment, and other parameters into consideration. One of the essential ways to make learning interesting is gamification. Learning happens best when learners are involved in a visually simulated environment. Regardless of the age of the learner, learning through games is always well received. There are many benefits of incorporating simulations and games in learning. Active engagement is a major benefit when it comes to including simulations and games in the course. Games help learners be actively involved in learning. Learners can adapt well with the “try, fail, learn” experience. It helps them adapt their skills to the real world scenarios. Simulations and games are self-paced.
We live in an age where learners look for engaging and interactive learning courses. This is not difficult if the strategy is well planned and developed. These simple and effective techniques, when applied appropriately, can change the face your courses completely.