One of the most distinct and unique advantages of eLearning is that, to varying degrees, it comes with a captive audience. Granted, some of that audience is obligated to participate in order to achieve mandated compliance, but it doesn’t change the fact that the learners are there, present and prepared to learn.
And you likely have a wealth of insights and knowledge you’d like to impart to your learners, presenting an opportunity to leverage strategies that will increase student engagement through relatable, humanized approaches.
Think of it this way: You can tell someone that a particular chemical at work is dangerous and to handle it with care. It’s simple, to-the-point and communicates what needs to be explained. But let’s say that instead, you tell the real-life story of the time a colleague of yours mishandled the same chemical and the trouble that ensued. The characters now have names, faces and – more importantly – the emotional investment of the listeners. Why? Because facts selectively come and go through our brains; stories stick with us.
And that level of emotional investment can only be achieved through thoughtful strategies; strategies that increase student engagement – and ultimately, success.
So here are five tips that will help you use your own experiences in order to create memorable and relatable eLearning courses and increase student engagement.
We take it for granted, but there is so much power and influence in simply calling someone by their name. Dale Carnegie, the author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, believed that using someone’s name was incredibly important, saying that a person’s name is ‘the sweetest sound in any language for that person.’ It is at the core of our identity, so hearing it validates our existence, which makes us much more inclined to feel positively about the person who validated us.
And this can easily be translated to eLearning. Add a text-based variable that accepts the learner’s name for one of the most effective ways to personalize your eLearning course. At the beginning of the course, the learners can be asked to input their name which can then be used to congratulate them when they successfully complete an eLearning activity or to have an eLearning character use it throughout the module to increase engagement and immersion.
For better or worse, life is like a series of first dates. Individuals with different backgrounds and experiences – both personal and professional – come together and actively seek common ground, or ‘mutual knowledge, mutual beliefs, and mutual assumptions.’ We all have different ideas of what’s inspiring, interesting, funny, offensive – and what’s not. When you really think about it, connecting with another person is no small feat, yet we do it day in and day out – and usually with some degree of success.
So in order to leverage our inherent instinct to find common ground and connect, research the backgrounds of your audience to get an accurate sense of what the majority of them would find engaging – maybe through surveys or interviews of a few prototypical learners – in order to determine what strategies will work.
Stories are powerful. They are a shared, authentic human experience that pave the way for the deep connections that transcend generations and differences to engage us with one another through emotion. And undoubtedly, we each have a wealth of stories and experiences that we’ve collected over the years – and thankfully, they can help us provide a richer, more profound and more impactful eLearning experience for our audience.
You can tell stories and give real-life examples to better highlight the subject matter and entertain your learners while providing a profound conduit to the content – immersing and engaging your students in the educational experience you’ve created for them. Again, rather than just reciting a long list of facts or concepts, instead offer opportunities to intimately connect with this new knowledge in a way that is both entertaining and educational. When you include real-world examples or personal anecdotes, you give your learners the opportunity to relate to the subject matter and develop a deep connection.
We human beings are emotional creatures. When we feel something – when something evokes emotion – we remember it, leading to greater knowledge absorption and retention. When we recall a particular event in our lives that elicited happiness or joy, we immediately remember what we were doing, where we were, who was with us and more. We recall every vivid detail because of how it made us feel.
And we can replicate this experience for our learners as a strategy to increase student engagement. Invoke that feeling by sharing a thought-provoking, emotional story or simulation to help them more effectively remember the core ideas of the eLearning course.
In eLearning, another effective strategy to increase student engagement involves redirecting learners to online training modules, activities, and assessments based on their job duties and titles. For example, Human Resource employees can select their respective department from the introduction screen, while customer service employees will be directed to online training content customized for them. Further, variables can be leveraged to offer supplemental online training content for managers, supervisors, and team leaders.
Customization makes eLearning courseware more relatable and relevant as every employee receives the exact individualized online training content necessary to achieve their exact individual goals. Because rather than offering a ‘one-size-fits-all’ online training course, their eLearning experience can be more narrowly tailored to them, again leveraging the importance of individuality and intimacy.
These five tips on the strategy of integrating the human experience in eLearning courseware and increase student engagement provide your audience an educational experience that is relatable, engaging, and emotionally-focused.
By Victoria Zambito, SVP of Content and Communications