Various Methods of Engagement
In previous blogs, we have discussed how storytelling, scenarios, gamification, evidence-based methods, Q&A are effective strategies to engage the learners. In all strategies, one thing is for sure, we are looking for higher engagement levels as compared to standard click and learn kind of eLearning courses. The standard eLearning courses are no longer appealing to the learners as they don’t engage them enough. They may still go through the eLearning courses but would do so to complete them as per mandate and not with any seriousness.
So, a good way to keep learners engaged is through interactivities that have the question component and asks learners to perform a series of steps that takes them forward. Let’s look at the various types of interactivities.
5 Interesting Interactivities
1. Myths and Facts
An interesting way to appeal to the learners is by asking them whether a particular statement is a myth or a fact. For any given subject, we have some popular perceptions. So, by asking learners to choose between a myth and fact will help them exercise their grey cells and think for a while. The purpose of this kind of interactivity is to help learners test themselves as to how much they really know about the subject. An interesting example of this activity is about say “Road Safety”. The learners may have certain assumptions about how to drive vehicles, the number of accidents that are generally reported, the best ways to drive during night or on highway, the correct method of giving way to another rider and so on. By starting a course by asking learners about myths and facts related to the concept will make them understand it at a deeper level.
2. Rhetorical Questions
An interesting strategy is to use rhetorical questions such as Agree/Disagree or “What do you think?” to make the learners think about the subject. This is a strategy that has evolved from classroom or face-to-face teaching. Good teachers generally start by asking rhetorical questions to wake up students from their slumber or inattentiveness. In the digital learning situation, asking such questions will help learners exercise their mental faculty better.
3. Mini-cases With Follow-up Questions
Another strategy is to have short or mini-cases to tell a story of a product or a success/failure. This can be followed by question to the learner as to what went right or wrong. This strategy helps learners understand the concept better. An example of this could be a failed drug that had to be called back or a failed car tire that caused accidents and had to be recalled by the company. Such cases add spice to the courses and help engagement levels go a notch higher.
This is a variation of a multiple-choice activity. While in multiple choice activity, there is a pressure to perform and get the answer correct, there is no such pressure in a checklist driven activity. Learners are presented with a series of items that they think are applicable to a situation. There are no right or wrong answers, but diagnostic feedback that helps learners learn about the concept better. An example I can think of is a series of statements related to food habits of adults in a course on food and nutrition. These statements will help learners gauge their understanding of concepts better.
5. Picture Comparison
Another interesting and time-tested interactivity is comparison. Learners are presented with two pictures and asked about which one is correct or a better way is of performing a procedure. After the learner selects an option, the feedback is provided with additional learning and resources. This strategy works well when we are talking about processes and procedures. Instead of just showing a series of steps, we ask learners to make an active choice. The learners are engaged better in this manner.
1. Drug Discovery
The customer wanted their inductees to understand and appreciate the process of drug discovery. We created a course with an interesting interactivities such as mini-cases with follow up questions and decision trees to evoke right responses and better learning. The course was able to help the learners make better choices and improve their learning process.
2. Banking Products
The customer wanted a course that would help improve the completion rates and better application of knowledge gained. We created a course with a series of interactivities. One such interactivity was scenarios with questions. The course was well liked and helped the customer achieve their training goals.
To conclude, there are many ways to make course interesting even when we are following the standard exploratory or discovery-based approach to teaching. The clue is to keep the course interesting by having good interactivities that keep the learners engaged and interested in their learning journey.
- Using Design Thinking To Create Better Custom eLearning Solutions
- Cost vs Benefits Analysis of Custom eLearning Solutions
- Using Kolb’s Learning Styles To Create Engaging Custom eLearning Courses
- Using Effective Q&A Model To Create Engaging Custom eLearning Courses With Mini-Cases
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Learning Thursday is a blog series that features a new L&D article every other week along with discussion points. Read and then share your own ideas by commenting below! Check out the last Learning Thursday here.
I wrote this week’s article for InSync Training’s “50 Modern Blended Learning Blogs” series. The discussion questions are: What is the biggest hurdle you’ve faced when implementing blended learning? How did you rise to the challenge?
Blended learning programs can be a beautiful thing. Need to cover a global workforce? Use virtual classrooms to engage learners everywhere. Can’t get employees to leave their desks? Bring learning opportunities to their desks in the form of short videos, quick reference guides, and fun simulations. Mix learning content together to create interactive training programs.
But wait, you say, it’s not that easy. My organization has expectations.
Your organization may expect learning to take place in person. In their opinion, if there isn’t a person in front of the classroom, teaching with an apple on their desk, it’s not “real” training. Sometimes the perception comes from your learners – other times it’s from your leaders. Either way, it will take time to change your organization’s collective mindset.
You may ask, “Why would you go to the trouble of moving to blended learning?” Because it helps the learner retain the training. It helps you serve your workforce efficiently. And, it helps your organization reach an increasingly tech savvy employee base that expects learning to be as easy to access as Google.
Become the training equivalent of Google. Give your learners options, and they will take advantage of those options.
Start small. If you encounter resistance from the top, don’t start there. Start at the bottom, with one little group of learners.
Converting your learning program is a major change. Resistance to change is driven by fear – often fear of failure, or fear of the unknown. To ensure your organization accepts blended learning, address both fears up front by trying out your program ideas on a small group of learners. Get their feedback and incorporate it into the program. If a course element isn’t effective according to your learners, ask why. Refine instead of removing. Tweak instead of making sweeping changes.
Know that one round of revisions will not be enough. Like any training product, a blended learning campaign is a work in progress.
What happens if something doesn’t work? You take it out. You try something else. Don’t give up.
Like any part of training, blended learning programs require a willingness to add, delete, and refine. Edit before you roll your program. Collect feedback from learners. Refine more.
Is your current program delivered entirely in the classroom? Look for ways to replace small pieces of classroom content with videos, documents, or simulations. In the beginning, spend as little as possible. Use free or affordable content until you build up your organization’s confidence in blended learning.
Other ways to replace small pieces of classroom content include:
- Start with the obvious, the easy, and the accessible. How much do YouTube videos cost? Nothing. Add them to your classroom experiences to give the learner variety. Are there quick reference guides or internal communications you can repurpose into learning? Into the LMS they go. Free compliance training from government agencies make perfect, ready-made material.
- Look for the little victories. Include activities where learners do research online or do scavenger hunts around the office, before returning to class to share their findings. Rather than accomplishing it all in the classroom, find ways to deliver content in other ways, before and after class. Look for ways to cut material out of classroom training and replace with other resources.
- Add mentoring elements to your learning program. Look for existing resources in your organization – supervisors, SMEs, and experienced employees, especially those seeking a promotion. Look for topics in your program that can be reinforced through coaching and one-on-one interactions. Reward those who teach others by making mentoring a line item on job performance reviews.
Sometimes it isn’t the organization as a whole that fears blended learning. It’s the trainers themselves.
“You’re getting rid of my job!” they scream. “Classroom training is what the learners want!” (If all your organization has ever delivered is classroom training… how would learners know that’s what they prefer over everything else?)
It’s natural to fear change. Blended learning necessitates a change in the trainers’ role. Those who only know classroom training will be required to learn new skills, such as e-learning development, LMS administration, and technical editing. Those on your team who see change as exciting will dance. Those who fear technology will hide. But change is real and necessary. Change happens regardless of whether we ask for it. And the change to blended learning is spreading across the entire learning and development industry.
Duncan Welder IV, Director of Client Services for RISC, Inc., shared a personal experience in Corporate Training Tips & Tricks. It is a great example of the new role of the learning professional in this modern approach:
“When I was in grad school, we had to complete a group class project. (This was for instructional video if that places an age on me.) We produced a recruiting film for the High School for the Human Sciences, a new magnet school for people with an interest in health care professions. Again, it was student developed and overseen by a professor, but it rendered a final piece for the school that would have normally been a capital expense if it was something they could have done at all. It’s not a bad idea to reach out to an educational or instructional technology program nearby and see if they can assist.”
Building the acceptance of change starts with your own team. Introduce your team to blended learning elements, and give them time to embrace it. Give them time to become good at it. Remember that trainers are learners too, and they have to be given time to adapt to new responsibilities. Give them time not just to become competent, but confident. Enthusiastic even. Get the buy-in of your immediate team, and let their love of blended learning motivate change in your organization.
What is the biggest hurdle you’ve faced when implementing blended learning? How did you rise to the challenge? Comment below.
Try Adobe’s learning management system, Captivate Prime, for free. Assembling a blended learning catalog has never been easier!
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