How To Improve Learner Retention In eLearning Courses And Avoid Drop-Outs
Throughout my many years in the eLearning industry, I’ve encountered a variety of eLearning courses that experienced a dramatic decline in learner retention rates. Despite the fact that eLearning professionals develop their eLearning courses with great care and do everything in their power to promote and manage them, for one reason or another they are still noticing ever-rising drop-out statistics.
The real problem that is hindering their success is not what they are actually doing after launching the eLearning course, but rather what they’ve missed during the eLearning design and development process. You see, in order to improve the rate of learner retention in eLearning you have to get them hooked from the very beginning. Your eLearning course has to grab their interest and maintain it throughout the eLearning experience. In this article, I’ll share insight and advice on how to avoid drop-outs and design eLearning courses that engage and enlighten your learners from the very first screen.
- Clearly define benefits and expectations beforehand.
One of the most common reasons why learners drop-out of eLearning courses is that they are not always aware of what is expected of them after enrollment. Possibly, they don’t expect as many assignments or they don’t realize that they will be asked to actively participate in the eLearning course. This is why it’s important for eLearning professionals to clarify expectations in advance. Let them know, either in the introduction or in the eLearning course description, what the eLearning course entails and what they will need to do to successfully complete it. Likewise, they should be made aware of the benefits they can expect to receive from the eLearning course. Knowing which real world rewards they can earn by actively participating may just be the motivation they need to stay focused and fully engaged.
- Have a well-structured support system in place.
Even learners who may be progressing steadily and getting high marks on their eLearning assessments need a little help every now and then. Having a well-structured support system in place is essential, as it gives your learners the ability to address their concerns and ask any questions they may have, particularly those that may stand in the way preventing them from achieving their goals. You should clarify how they can contact the online instructor or facilitator, as well as how quickly they can expect a response.
- Encourage online collaboration with peers.
Online collaboration can be a powerful tool in the world of eLearning. Not only does it give learners the chance to learn from their peers, but it adds that all-important social learning element that boosts interaction and engagement. Through online collaboration, they are able to share their ideas, feedback and personal experiences, which makes them feel as part of an active online learning community. Being members of an online learning community, they are less likely to leave, as they feel connected to the eLearning course on a deeper level.
- Provide self-study activities.
There are going to be certain instances wherein learners simply cannot attend an eLearning event or are unable to commit to weekly online discussions. As a result, having online self-study activities at-the-ready is always wise. While learners may be required to participate in eLearning activities, you also need to bear in mind that obligations and responsibilities may keep them away from the virtual classroom from time to time. Provide your learners with links to online resources, downloadable learning activities and other information that they can use to catch up on their studies to supplement their education.
- Cater to a wide range of learning needs.
Not everyone prefers to learn in quite the same way. While one learner might prefer reading a heavy text-based eLearning course, others might prefer multimedia presentations to grasp the concepts. To reduce drop-out rates and improve learner retention in eLearning, it’s essential to cater to a wide range of learning needs. The same rule applies to assessments. Be sure to include a variety of different assessment methods, from multiple-choice formats to scenario exams, in order to give every member of your wide audience the chance to benefit from your eLearning course.
- Break down eLearning courses into more manageable lessons or modules.
A common cause for learner drop-outs is frustration. This may seem like a rather simple challenge that can easily be addressed, but the truth is that frustration can diminish learners’ self-confidence and cause them to completely disconnect from the eLearning course, itself. They may begin to feel as though the eLearning course is just too difficult or that they are being overwhelmed by the amount of information they are being given. For this very reason, eLearning professionals should break eLearning courses down into more manageable units that are spread out over time. Instead of asking your learners to complete the entire eLearning course in one sitting, divide it up into smaller chunks that learners can complete when it’s most convenient for them or by a specific date. Offer them the power to progress at their own pace, without having to worry about keeping up with their peers, so that they can feel confident in their ability to successfully complete the eLearning course and master the learning objectives.
By using these learner retention tips, you can develop eLearning courses that provide your learners with maximum results while decreasing your drop-out rates, in order to ensure the future growth of your eLearning course.
Grabbing and holding learners’ attention is exactly what you need to boost learner retention. Read the article Direct Learners’ Attention: 5 Tips For eLearning Professionals, to learn more about how to design eLearning deliverables that direct your learners’ attention by offering them meaningful and memorable eLearning experiences.