by Kyriaki Raouna of LearnWorlds
According to Global Market Insights, in 2020 the e-learning market surpassed $250 billion, and that number is expected to grow fast.
As the Global Market Insights report shows, within six years the e-learning market will reach $1 trillion. By 2027, many universities and colleges, companies, training organizations, and learning businesses as well as individual subject matter experts, will be using online learning to the fullest to educate their learners.
While learners are more receptive to online education, the struggle to keep them engaged in the long run is real.
Whether these learners are partners, customers, students, or professionals or workers in your target market, they deserve to get a high-quality online course that motivates them to learn throughout the experience.
If you are offering online courses, here are a few things you can do to increase participation and keep your learners engaged.
1. Offer challenges.
Compared to face-to-face learning, the online learning environment can sometimes be more passive because of the lack of personal interaction between other learners and instructors.
PowerPoint slides can easily zap learners’ excitement, so you need to get more creative. Nothing is better than presenting a real challenge and allowing learners to come up with creative ways to overcome it.
Assigning challenging tasks is an excellent way to give opportunity for some constructive conversation to be heard. The learners’ interest in the class increases once they have a goal to accomplish.
Here are a few ideas to try:
- Give learners individual project work.
- Have them to brainstorm ideas.
- Involve them in role-playing scenarios.
- Offer them multiple assessment choices.
- Encourage self-assessment.
- Ask open-ended questions.
Structure is good when organizing an online course, but it is essential to give learners the space to experiment and take initiative as much as possible.
2. Add online discussion.
Most online courses are self-paced, providing asynchronous learning to learners. While the do-it-when-you-can flexibility of these courses is great, they often lack the online community element, which can contribute significantly to learning success.
Those that are led by individual instructors (such as cohort courses) often come with higher engagement and completion rates and are often much more effective. This is because they create a community-driven environment that fosters additional support and accountability.
Community-based learning is a collection of instructional methods that integrate meaningful community engagement and reflective learning that aims to enrich the learning experience.
Creating such learning experiences helps to instill a sense of belonging and keeps learners engaged and motivated. You should aim to create a learning community that encourages online discussion and allows learners to work together and exchange their thoughts and opinions.
3. Consider gamification.
Another way to increase learners’ engagement is by introducing gamified elements into your online courses.
Gamification is all about including game-like content inside your learning material so that the learning process becomes more fun and interactive for learners.
These are some examples of gamified learning:
- Quizzes with badges as a reward
- Interactive videos with text elements, such as questions, labels, and titles
- Scoring, leveling up, bonuses, and challenge systems
- Timed decision-making activities
- Story-led scenarios
- Real-time progress stats and points
Gamified learning is a great way to increase participation and motivate learners to finish the course—and to help them enjoy it along the way.
Gamification can also aid in memory and knowledge retention and increase performance. A study published in the International Journal of Serious Games showed that certain game elements can improve performance and efficiency in a working memory task, increasing the ability and willingness of the learner to train at their optimal performance level.
4. Celebrate accomplishments.
Regardless of age, all learners need encouragement once in a while. If learners have good attendance, do well on exams, and submit their assignments on time, give them some recognition.
These learners set a good example for others to follow, and, by praising their efforts and attitude, you show what you expect from them. When learners feel appreciated, they are more likely to attend live classes.
It doesn’t hurt to offer rewards or give them special prizes or physical gifts too. These can be extra incentive for learners to be attentive and reinforce their intrinsic motivation.
5. Invite guests or industry experts.
Another way to increase participation and boost learners’ interest in your course or training program is to invite special guests to offer insights into the subject you are teaching.
Industry experts can give a talk through an online Webinar and discuss key or even controversial topics that spark further discussion. This is a brilliant way to break the routine, explore different perspectives, and present learners with real-life examples of how they can apply their knowledge.
The Internet offers great possibilities, but it is still difficult to gain access to industry leaders. Having them as guests makes your course curriculum unique and allows you to provide an add-on service that learners will find valuable.
6. Give clear guidelines.
Many times learners are unsure about what they need to do or what the next steps are in a course. When studying online it becomes easy for learners to get lost or lose sight of the bigger goal. Having clear instructions and guidelines can help massively.
Explain what you are doing and why are you choosing to do it that way. Every step of the way, refer to the learning objectives of the course, and let learners know about the process you follow.
This is important because, to increase participation, you want learners to understand why you are giving them that homework or assignment. You also want them to realize why they need to take part in live classes, go through all video content, or read those e-books.
Subtle reminders of the purpose behind the course, which should tie to some relevant need of the learners, go a long way to helping them get the best out of it.
7. Give constructive feedback.
To ensure that you and your learners are always on the same page, hold frequent catch-up sessions to answer questions. This helps ensure everyone is happy and satisfied with the learning experience provided.
If it is difficult for specific learners to speak up and voice their inquiries in front of a group, schedule one-to-one sessions to discuss any concerns and offer your feedback.
It usually takes a bit of work to make sure that learners are getting what they need and expect from your course, but it is worth it. Happy learners are your best ambassadors.
Ready to increase participation in your courses?
Online courses are in great demand, but this alone isn’t enough to ensure that learners are going to stick around and complete them.
As an online course creator, you need to come up with creative ways to keep the interest and motivation of learners alive. Each learner has their own learning preferences and may respond differently to the activities and tasks given.
Despite unique preferences, the tactics just covered—including challenges, gamified learning, and constructive feedback—will help keep your learners going.
To be able to engage learners effectively, make sure to choose a learning management system that offers the best features and capabilities.
About the Author
Kyriaki Raouna is a content creator for LearnWorlds, writing about marketing and e-learning and helping course creators on their journey to create, market, and sell their online courses. Equipped with a degree in career guidance, she has a strong background in education management and career success. In her free time, she gets crafty and musical.