Although your instructors may be the experts on course content, this does not necessarily mean that they’re equipped for teaching online students. Being a subject matter expert is one thing; converting knowledge into course materials intended for online consumption.
As course content and course materials should be designed online in mind, instructors should also know how to navigate the online platform. They should take advantage of technology and make sure that online courses support students with high engagement. A big part of engaging online students is enlisting instructors who know how to command authority and attention on-screen… which brings us to the next tip.
Story-telling plays an important role in ensuring a high level of engagement. Students – and essentially everyone – love to hear good stories. Stories help students relate better to the subject matter and imagine the practical application of the lessons more easily. Stories also evoke certain emotions and provide more vivid explanations/illustrations, making them more effectively stick to learners’ minds.
In this sense, case studies effectively explain course content based on how other people have applied the content in practical life. How did Airbnb start its growth hacking journey? How about Google famously allowing their employees to work on side hustles 20% of the time as a great case study of Pareto Principles? What do other companies do to help learners and instructors navigate L&D better?
Stories shouldn’t only come from instructors. To encourage more online engagement and participation in a subject area, let students share their own experiences or relevant case studies they’ve read.
If other formats like audio, video, or gaming can help, then, by all means, use them to increase engagement! Online programs and learning management systems (LMS) provide the perfect opportunity to use multiple formats to enhance course content and engage online learners even more.
Apart from formats, explore group interaction like discussion forums, email, group projects, even bringing in guest instructors or experts – essentially anything that will help students interact and receive feedback with each other. Don’t forget – even if the students are not in a physical classroom together, interaction and team discussions are still highly possible!
Ownership and control are essential to high engagement and enabling student success when it comes to remote and online courses. When learners understand the stake in the content, have a say in what they want to learn and take control of their learning path, they become more invested in an online program.
Instructional designers should understand the importance of providing flexibility with topics, delivery methods, format, and timing. Using these items allows your learners to go through the course content based on their learning styles. They should also allow for self-assessment, enabling the learner to either skip content they have already mastered or take a deep dive into a topic that needs more attention. More importantly, instructional designers should provide avenues for feedback on how the course is going so far, as this allows them to adjust the style, content, and formats based on the current learning experience.
Accessibility may be the most obvious and important piece. Great content will go to waste if the learners can’t access the platform. High student engagement depends on an easy user experience (UX) and web accessibility. If an online course, its learning management system, and platform are all full of bugs, this will become friction for learners, causing them to leave it. As a learning manager, make sure that you use tools and platforms that will allow for a seamless learning experience.
No matter how you define a perfect eLearning experience, there are proven engagement strategies that work best. Focusing on learner engagement leads not only to a more enjoyable experience but also better retention of information.
If you’d like to learn more about engaging online learners and creating that perfect learning experience, here are 9 tips for more learner engagement.