As more organizations add eLearning training, the need for engagement strategies also increases.
Keeping employees happy and engaged as they participate in mandatory (or voluntary) online training can boost morale and improve organizational metrics.
But keeping employees satisfied with the training process isn’t always easy, and if you’ve tried implementing eLearning courses into the corporate environment you can probably attest that engagement doesn’t come naturally.
Getting high levels of engagement isn’t impossible, however, as long as you have the right strategies in place.
Here are a few of the top strategies for improving eLearning engagement in the workplace.
1. Use Social learning for Group Training
Research shows that people are more successful when they learn in groups.
While eLearning makes it easier for workers to learn at their own pace, in some cases it can increase isolation, since employees are accessing information online rather than a classroom environment.
One of the ways to combat isolation and help learners engage in a group setting is by adding social learning elements to your course materials. This can include things like discussion forums, live chats, or simply collaborative and shared documents.
Facebook announced last year that it was experimenting with allowing Group Pages to create online learning courses, which would enable employers to create Facebook Groups to aid in social learning more easily.
2. Incentivize Training with Metric-Based Objectives
For many organizations, eLearning is not only a core component to employee training and onboarding, but an ongoing need.
Part of the reason that organizations still struggle with engagement is that it’s difficult to punish employees who don’t complete materials or generally underperform.
The solution to the problem is not to punish them at all, but rather to reward them for completion. Incentivizing training can increase engagement, even when training is mandatory.
But incentivization isn’t just about giving employees monetary rewards (gift cards, etc.) for completion. Rewards like promotions or new opportunities within the company may be better incentives when training is attached to your company’s success.
When we asked one manager about rewards that motivate learners in the workplace, he said, “Our eLearning training is attached to our metrics, so it’s a metrics-based objective (MBO). I tell my employees, ‘you need to have your MBOs done in order to receive your bonus.’”
3. Add Gamification Elements to Reduce Stress
When training is mandatory and/or employees are trying to reach their MBOs by completing an eLearning course, it can be difficult to find enjoyment in the process.
One way to mitigate the burden on employees who have to complete training is to add gamification elements that are more fun than traditional lessons.
Things like leaderboards, which showcase progress using “levels” and badges, can help keep employees motivated to “get on the board.”
While certain organizations might not find this helpful, it can be a boon for more competitive environments or those that value and reward leadership skills among team members.
If leaderboards aren’t your thing, other gamification elements, like this example of a storyboard tic-tac-toe training course by Felipe Casajus, may help keep employees engaged without hurting those who are less competitive in nature.
4. Include User-Generated Content
Last year saw a 38% rise in user-generated content among organizations using eLearning, and this trend will most likely continue into this year and the years to come.
With increasing access to technology that allows collaboration between teams (Slack, Skype, Trello, etc.), creating courses in collaboration with employees may be a better strategy for engagement in certain situations.
Allowing employees to create elements of your course, like knowledge checks, multimedia, and/or real-world scenarios, can keep them engaged as well as create custom content for your organization that can’t be found anywhere else.
5. Curate Supplemental Content from Other Sources
Training materials do not have to come solely from your organization.
Supplementary training materials, like TED talks, YouTube, blogs, webinars, and so on, can also fill in the knowledge gap for employees or help them better understand the “why” behind the training.
Videos and interactive webinars can be helpful for those that struggle getting through their coursework, as it adds another element that might appeal to their learning style better than a traditional eLearning slideshow, for example.
It can help those who move through their coursework too quickly, as it gives you the opportunity to provide more training without having to add more materials or completely revamp your current course.
One caveat with supplement training is that it should be well curated, meaning that any content you find needs to be reviewed and assess for its helpfulness and how well it would interact with your current course.
Not every blog post, TED talk, or webinar will be of value to your training programs.
6. Add Interactive Videos (in Place of AR/VR)
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) tools are becoming more available as eLearning tools, but they’re not quite accessible to every organization, and the technology itself is still developing.
But the principle behind AR/VR — interactivity to increase learning retention and engagement — can still be used in other ways as the technology progresses.
Interactive videos, for instance, can be a great solution for simulating learning experiences without investing a lot of time or resources in expensive tools or VR equipment.
Videos use branching scenarios, on-screen questions, video chapters and decision-making prompts to help learners experience the consequences of their actions and receive feedback without having to make real mistakes in the workplace.
They can also add an element of “fun” to the learning experience, as it’s something different than reading a course book or going through a quiz.
And it can help managers see exactly how well learners are retaining information.
7. Use Microlearning to “Chunk” Content
Many experts believe that the maximum time a human can spend focused on any one task is around 20 minutes. That’s partly why microlearning is considered one of the top trends of 2018 and beyond.
Microlearning involves breaking down content into more manageable “chunks” that can be completed in a shorter amount of time (1 minute – 20 minutes, ideally).
These lessons can range from things like reading an infographic, watching a short video, or taking a quiz, as well as more traditional lessons in the form of slideshows, ebooks and guides (as long as the reading is completed in smaller chunks).
Podcasts, for example, have become a new trend for certain learners and have shown promise for delivering higher-level insights to employees without taxing them in the same way as other forms of eLearning.
Whatever type of content you use, the goal is simply to keep lessons “short and sweet,” even if it means stretching training over several days or weeks rather than trying to accomplish training in a single weekend.
8. Include Mentorship Wherever Possible
Another element of eLearning that is often overlooked is engagement with upper management or leadership within the company.
Including mentorship roles along with eLearning lessons, like rewarding employees with one-on-one time with leadership or including lessons created and curated by upper management, can foster a sense of community and connection between teams.
Recent research has suggested that pairing mentorship programs with eLearning courses and other forms of training results in greater focus and development for employees than those who are just completing mandatory courses without any real goal.
Mentorship opportunities also allow management to add guidance and direction from their own leadership experience, which can motivate employees to achieve more in their careers, not just in their eLearning courses.
The biggest trends in eLearning are a mix of technology and people-motivated strategies.
Social learning, user-generated content, and mentorship can all add the “human touch” to coursework and help employees understand that they’re not just completing a course, they’re adding value to their careers and company.
Technology like interactive videos and certain types of gamification can add “fun” to otherwise bland materials and increase engagement through entertainment.