Across different organisations, the methods and tools used to do this may vary, but there are some general principles that can prove an effective starting point for any employer.
As an article published by Mind Tools
recently suggested, the secret to engaging anyone in any sort of learning – including e-learning – is to make it relevant, interesting interactive.
However, it points out that interactivity doesn’t necessarily equate with “being interesting.”
As Lindsey Mack, of the learning materials producer CloudQast says: “The book ‘The Da Vinci Code’ may be ‘interesting’ but it’s not interactive.”
Lindsey believes that making e-learning engaging involves meeting the learner’s implicit question of “what’s in it for me?”
He adds that the e-learning materials should be both purposeful and conversational, be easily navigable, accessible by any mobile device, and kept “bite-sized” and searchable – in the manner of the successful short videos available on YouTube.
The caveat to all this, though, is that some 75-80% of all corporate learning – including e-learning – relates to regulatory and compliance issues.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if these programs are relevant, interesting and interactive, because people have to complete them to keep their jobs and careers.
Yet it’s still worth trying to make even these learning materials popular, so that people will elect to learn even when they don’t have to keep their jobs.
Here are 10 things (in no particular order) that you can do to make e-learning relevant, interesting and interactive:
- Gamification (1). There are two aspects to this. The first is using games to engage the learner.
- Gamification (2). The other aspect of gamification is to use badges and/or league tables to encourage learners to learn – and to become recognized as a “top learner.” However, this approach can demotivate some people, especially those who aren’t “sales–oriented” or ambitious for recognition.
- Use of video. This reduces the “page-turning” element of e-learning. According to CloudQast’s Damian Gaskin, “We can now make video non-linear, for example using a menu and hotspots that allow users to move around a video.”
- Allow the learners to determine their own learning programs. This reduces prescribing learning, in terms of the time and content allocated for study, and allows learners to learn what they want when they want to learn it. This puts the learner in control of the learning. While being highly motivating for the learner, the L&D professional/employer loses an element of control over the learning that’s taking place.
- Empower L&D specialists to be curators of learning, not prescribers or even deliverers of learning. This calls for a new skill set for L&D specialists, and it gives the learners more control over their learning.
- Allow learners to apply what they’ve learned in the workplace. This is crucial because it gives them a reason to learn. However, this means that you need to address the other issues that tend to lie dormant – such as managers fearing their subordinates are now cleverer and/or more skilled than them and “sabotaging” the learning’s application.
- Don’t make doing e-learning a punishment or imposition.
- Encourage subject matter experts to produce learning content that follows instructional design principles, such as ADDIE, taking account of Keller’s ARCS and so on. In other words, subject matter experts need to be more than just subject matter experts. They need to be trainers too.
- Don’t forget “learning principles” by being distracted by “shiny” technology. E-learning isn’t going to be great just because it uses technology.
- Offer learners incentives to complete the learning. This could include certificates, badges, (transferable) qualifications, status, and/or money.
Boosting your employees’ motivation and engagement in e-learning can be a challenge, but with the right tools in place, navigating this challenge can be seamless.