The task of not just creating content, but creating content that resonates with your learners is a critical but difficult task to master. You can offer great content in your eLearning courses, but you can’t be totally sure if your audience is learning from it. The learners are in control of what they learn and it mostly depends on their level of motivation.
But ... how do we do it? This post is going to break down what seems like an art -- connecting with learners through your content -- and turn it into more of a science. There are certain motivational techniques that, if you implement them into your content, will make it more relevant and impactful for your audience. If you can understand what motivates learners, you can definitely enhance the learning experience. Therefore, your job is to find out what motivates these learners and then use those insights to engage them into the course.
Here's what you can do to motivate learners before, during, and after eLearning courses:
Before the Course
Technique #1: Understand the Learner
Instructors should think about their audience before gathering any kind of instructional materials. They need to think about the type of people they are working with and what jobs they are currently doing in the company. Are they seasoned employees with years of experience or fresh from college? Do they already have specific and reliable methods that they use on the job every day? Is the group diverse or similar in gender, age, education and job position? All of these factors will contribute to the dynamic of the class.
Technique #2: Make Learning Meaningful
Most employees are interested in learning new information only if it can be applied directly to their daily lives. A key motivational factor in eLearning includes instructional materials and ideas that will be meaningful for the student. If the new skill or information won't be useful to the employee, they will most likely find less value in the course. Instructors and trainers should always stick to relevant content and describe specifically how and when the students can use it on the job or in daily life.
During the Course
Technique #1: Stimulate Curiosity
An effective way to get students on board during any course is to stimulate their curiosity. Instructors can get students thinking about the big ideas in the course, ask them to describe an ideal workday or get them brainstorming about new concepts. Students will be more naturally motivated to learn new material when they are curious about how it can affect their duties on the job. Other motivational factors in eLearning include giving a pre-test or questionnaire before the material is delivered or asking the students to make a list of the topics they would like to explore throughout the course.
Other strategies to foster curiosity:
- Introduce thought-provoking questions, knowledge checks or surprising statements.
- Give learners a problem to solve.
- Encourage students to learn through active exploration. Provide resources, videos and podcasts to create a environment for exploration.
Technique #2: Give Relevant Feedback
Feedback should always be specific and relevant. While everyone likes a few pats on the back, it doesn't have a lot of value when it isn't specific or relevant. Trainers should give students feedback that applies directly to the job they do. In an online course, feedback can take the form of email correspondence, discussion boards or phone calls. It's important to make each student feel like his work is validated.
Technique #3: Deliver content in the right format
Learners want quick, bite-size pieces of content to make it easier to progress through a course and to make the training experience more “manageable”. Overload them, and they will disengage. Whether it's deciding to organize information in a logical way by defining modules, sections and topics, or if you are cutting a screen into 2 different slides to make it more digestible, determine what content format will help you get your message across.
After the Course
Technique #1: Celebrate Course Completion
Provide a way to celebrate the accomplishments of the students and all of the time and effort they used to complete the course requirements. Instructors can give students a certificate of completion or provide the boss with a list of employees who completed the course.
Technique #2: Provide Helpful Support
One of the most important key motivational factors in eLearning is to provide the students with material to use once the course is over. It might take the form of helpful handouts to refer to as they apply new information and techniques to daily tasks. Instructors can provide a list of online references or helpful web sites or even make their selves available for questioning via email or phone.
As trainers and/or instructors, we can not do anything to students to make them learn, they will learn if they are motivated to accept the information provided. However, as we can see in this post, we can create the right environment to help them learn. What are you doing to motivate your learners before, during and after eLearning courses?