25 Ways to Reduce Dropout Rates in eLearning Courses (Part II)
Too often companies dump courses on their employees and then wonder why they don’t finish them. As we mentioned in part one, it depends on factors like how much support is provided and how motivation is addressed. However, two of the biggest factors in determining whether a learner dropped out or completed a course are related to the course’s design and how it connects the learner with any sense of relevance.
In this post we’ll see how we can reduce dropout rates to make course worthy of completion.
Lack of time or conflict in schedule
Problem: Lack of time, constant interruptions and the common perception that eLearning is somehow less important and therefore easier to disrupt than classroom learning, are the major factors that may discourage people from completing an eLearning course.
Like most people, learners have a long list of things to do at work. That's why many times learners’ dropout their courses, they’re just unable to spend a big period of time due to prior work commitments or workload pressures. In order for eLearning to be effective it must fit into their work schedules.
12. Flexible modules. eLearning administrators must create a flexible module to accommodate the needs of even the busiest employee. So, start by breaking up courses into independent modules that are substantial but short enough to sustain a student’s attention (maximum 15 minutes duration). This way, it becomes easier for any busy employee to dedicate 15 minutes a day on four days than one full hour on the same day.
13. Minimize learners’ distraction as much as possible. You can do this just by setting up a separate area for eLearning. This will make it much easier for employees to concentrate.
14. Offer adequate time in working hours for learning. Just like instructor-led training, eLearning must be prioritized by allowing study opportunities during office-hours. Give them enough time to take their courses.
15. It's all about focus. Don’t frustrate learners or waste their time with a bunch of extra content. Tell them what they need to know and let them go. eLearning is best when it’s direct, focussed, and brief.
16. Realistic deadlines can replace lengthier schedules as sources of positive pressure.
17. Support from instructors or virtual communities can help motivate and push eLearners despite their time constraints.
Poor course design
Problem: Several studies reveal that eLearners tend to dropout when they perceive that the eLearning course is not attractive enough or what they learn from thecourse is not relevant to their interest or goals. Without doubt, students expect more than just a course with a dump of text about a particular subject with a few short exercises within it… honestly, they could probably get the same training from a book. That’s why a well-designed course is so important to sustain engagement.
18. Create a course that’s as visually inviting as possible. eLearning environments should be inherently lively and interesting for your audience. Learners love to see more than just text, so if you replace words with diagrams, infographics, charts, powerful images, animations, interactive illustrations, and videos, chances are they will want to continue through the entire course.
19. Prioritize. Remember that you have limited time to convey your content, so anything that you choose to include in your course should be absolutely necessary. Re-evaluate the appropriateness of all the content for inclusion in a module and remove any unnecessary information. Remember: overload them, and they will becoming highly anxious, which in turn can make the learner unable to continue.
20. Be creative in the way content is presented. Chunking content gives you the opportunity to guide the learner by structuring content in a progressive and logical way according to how their brain processes information.
21. Spice up the course with interactive elements. Adding a variety of content types will keep your viewers engaged and interested in your eLearning course. Interactivity goes beyond just clicking around, it involves active participation by the learner—making choices, answering questions, going through simulations, etc. Check out this Interactivity Check List.
Problem: Too many courses are designed with little, if any, concern for whether the course and its content are relevant to the learner’s work context, needs, and knowledge and skill gaps. What many people don't know is that if learners don't see the link between the course and the results they will probably leave before completing the entire course.
22. Provide only the information that can help really them do something. When you are going to ask the learner to do something, be sure that it is worth the learner’s time and effort to do it; otherwise, the course loses credibility with the learner. Learners need to believe that they will learn something valuable from the experience. Otherwise, why would they stick with it?
23. Help them see the relevance and let them connect to the content in a personal way. Now you’re probably wondering how can you do this in eLearning when you can’t reach out of the screen to grab the learner? It’s easy; just try talking directly to them, ask questions that make them reflect on how they can implement the knowledge they’ve just acquired. Good questions keep the learner interested and motivated – however, irrelevant questions can be frustrating. This will make people switch off.
24. Always keep your learners in mind. Focus less on dumping information on the learner and more on what information they need to do what it is they’re supposed to do. For every piece of content you include, its important to think, what will the learner get out of it?
25. Keep your content updated. You need to revamp your content to keep with the changes. Include the latest facts and figures relevant to the learner's context.