By Adrien Souci, Consultant Learning Design, CrossKnowledge
Digital training, what are learners’ expectations?
Learner engagement in digital training is fundamental. Designers, project managers and educational engineers all have a role to play in improving and maintaining learner engagement. Whether it is a question of keeping learners motivated in their training or supporting them to complete a course, several factors must be considered when designing and creating a course that will appeal to your learners.
CrossKnowledge analyzed the results of 1,729 satisfaction surveys carried out at the end of 42 blended courses developed by its clients on various themes, including themes (soft and hard skills, management, processes, and cybersecurity.
This analysis enabled us to identify 7 priority areas for improvement that will help CrossKnowledge and other L&D professionals develop more engaging digital training courses.
Take advantage of internal testimonials
The finding: The first lesson learned is that training courses are often perceived as being too theoretical or conceptual. Learners expect training to be more practical, closer to their day-to-day realities.They also want more testimonials or experience sharing from colleagues, leaders or people in their company who are facing the same problems as them. Understanding how these people moved from theory to practice is essential to enable them to project themselves into their own practice, a key factor in acquiring competence.
The solution: This requires a fairly simple adjustment to existing or future learning programs. Sharing experiences can easily be done on video; there is no need for a studio or elaborate equipment. You could use a smartphone to film a colleague or a leader as long as a few simple rules are respected: good framing, a silent environment, a pleasant setting, with a synthetic and impactful testimony and good preparation by the speaker to avoid post-production edits.
Offer more interactivity
The observation: Quality, up-to-date content is of course key to the success of any e-learning course. But satisfaction surveys show that courses often contain too much content, sometimes making the training “overwhelming” to digest. To avoid the pitfall of too much content, and to keep a learner’s attention throughout the course, designers must integrate interactive activities at consistent points. Providing breaks allows learners to check that the lessons have been assimilated.
The solution: Use quizzes within the course! Formative quizzes provide learners the opportunity to make mistakes without consequences. The feedback associated with the questions allows learners to understand why they made a mistake and thus to assimilate better. Another course activity is surveys, which allow learners to position themselves in relation to their cohort. These are often fun and very popular. Open questions also encourage interactivity by initiating discussions between learners.
Improve the clarity of instructions
The observation: Following an e-learning course is not easy for everyone because the digital maturity of learners depends on several parameters, and it is important to avoid the assumption that digital technology is perfectly mastered by every learner. It is often difficult to fit training time into a working week and digital training is much easier to postpone than face-to-face training. The bottom line is that learners need help to organize themselves.
The solution: Always remind people of the objectives of the course, the duration and deadline. Make it clear what the benefits are for the learners to create a sense of urgency and engage employees in their training. Providing a tutorial or written instructions is often necessary to get the training started. It is also possible to help learners get organized by offering them a weekly slot to focus on their training. Finally, sending automatic reminders to learners ensures that they do not forget to complete their course.
Offer downloadable resources
The finding: Learners are often asking for resources that they can keep on their computer for future reference. Like the binders that are often handed out during face-to-face training, digital learners appreciate the fact that they can leave with something.
The solution: Provide a summary of key ideas, a checklist, or an action plan to complete at the end of the course. These documents can be made available to learners to help them implement the training and serve as a reminder after the training.
The observation: Cognitive overload or information overload is a major cause of disengagement and learning fatigue. Too much superfluous information loses learners, and they often want to get straight to the point, to find and easily retrieve what they are looking for in the training.
The solution: A customizable course where everyone can choose their own path is ideal. Another solution is to encourage learners to follow only what is most important to succeed in the training and then let them freely consult the secondary content. Additional resources that allow you to explore the topic further will be appreciated by the most curious learners without frustrating others.
Diversify learning styles
The observation: Designers tend to favor one learning style over the others… and it is often their own! Some prefer theory, overview or details, others action or discussion, reflection or experimentation. The data collected in our analysis shows that video is the most popular format, but it is not satisfactory or effective to offer only video. in fact, learners asked for more modules, more interactivity, and more content to read, and by adding these additional formats L&D can diversify their learning offers.
The solution: Variation is the key to a highly engaging training course that meets the expectations and preferences of as many people as possible. It allows everyone to find something that will motivate them and encourage them to go further.
Limit the compulsory elements of the course
Observation: Making a course compulsory is often the easy way to maximize its completion rate, but it can be counterproductive in terms of commitment. Adult learners are used to having a certain amount of autonomy in their work, and can often be frustrated by having to click on each piece of content to validate a course.
The solution: If the content of the course must be followed by learners on topics such as security or compliance, the compulsory part should be as short as possible. Informing learners at the outset that a validation of knowledge will take place at the end of the course is a good start to ensure that they remain attentive until the end and prevent them from having to go through the course a second time.
Final thoughts on digital training
One good way of improving learner engagement is to include the “persona method” in your course design. This method, often used in marketing or UX (user experience) Design, allows you to create a detailed archetype of learners based on specific data or interviews. The aim is to have a precise picture of the skill level, daily activities and real expectations of learners in relation to the course in order to offer the most relevant learning experience possible.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a CrossKnowledge Learning designer Adrien Souci helps clients to co-design their corporate learning programs & digital learning academies with a data-driven & learner-centric approach. Providing support in instructional design, digital project management, sharing best practices (Digital learning, Pedagogy, HILL model).