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Five tips for keeping your eLearning engaging

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We have said it before, and we will be more than happy to say it again: engagement is the key to a productive learning experience.  If you’re not engaged with the training, if you’re not paying attention to it, then learning anything from it will be next to impossible.  With that in mind here are five tips that we have found help to increase a learner’s engagement with an eLearning course.

1. Training needs to be actionable

First and foremost training needs to be actionable.  This is one of the ways in which adult learning differs from traditional school learning.  In school you’re often exposed to information purely for the sake of learning.  After all, the average person will never have a reason to know the correct ordering of Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and Species.  But where children’s brains are wired simply to absorb every piece of information they encounter, adult brains need an extra bit of help to make the information stick.  

And that’s why training should be actionable for maximum effect.  When information is presented not just as abstract theory, or isolated facts but as related to actionable choices that will have beneficial effects on your life, it becomes much easier to engage with the material, everything else being equal.   

2. Training needs to be relevant to the audience

Second, training should be relevant to the audience.  Each person wants training that’s meant for them specifically, not just for anyone.  On the most basic level this means not forcing someone who already understands an idea or a procedure to review it for the same time that a novice must.  But subject matter relevance is only one aspect.  There’s also cultural relevance, whether that’s company culture or local culture, and if training does not mesh well with that culture the results can be unpleasant and jarring to say the least.

3. Training needs to be interesting

Third, training needs to be interesting.  I know it might seem a little strange to insist that training needs to be interesting when I’ve already said it needs to be both actionable and relevant to the audience.  But the truth is that having a piece of training be both actionable and relevant isn’t the same thing as having it be interesting.  

Think about the way in which the training is presented.  You could have a presentation filled with actionable information, perfectly crafted to your culture, but if it’s just a powerpoint presentation with a monotone speaking over it, the training will certainly not be interesting.  I’m not suggesting you include explosions and car chases in your training (unless it’s relevant to your audience of course), but keep the content moving at a good pace and make it something people would actually enjoy even if they didn’t have to participate.

4. Training needs to be concise

And that leads us nicely into our fourth tip: keep everything concise.  One of the easiest ways to keep training interesting, is to keep each segment as short and concise as possible.  There’s no need to belabor a basic point with multiple examples when a single good example will do.  And there’s no need to go through a step by step explanation, when a quick demo will serve the same purpose much better.  Focus only on the essentials, and not only will everything move faster, but people will have an easier time focusing on what they actually need to be learning.

5. Training needs to be readily available

Lastly, training needs to be readily available.  Training that no one has access to is training that doesn’t help anyone.  For example, training should be offered through multiple platforms.  If I can access the training through my computer, my phone, or just any device with an internet connection then not only will I be more likely to take it, it will be easier to do so at a time when I can actively engage with it.  

In fact, time and location are just as important to consider as platform when it comes to making your training available.  It’s one thing to have training available on any device a person might bring to work, but if they can only access the training at work between the hours of 12pm and 1pm every other Wednesday, then that’s hardly an accessible course.  Training should be available not just through whatever method people need, but also at the times and places which are convenient.  That way, you can be sure that all distractions are put away and you can actively engage with the training.


Photo Credit: David Rzegocki