4 Effective Ways To Enhance Engagement In Your Online Learning Program

4 Effective Ways To Enhance Engagement In Your Online Learning Program
Summary: When you spend a lot of effort developing an eLearning course, it can be painful to find out that more than half of your students do not even get halfway through the program.

How To Enhance Engagement In Your Online Learning Program

One of the major challenges people face with an eLearning program is engagement; in fact, research shows that 22% of students won’t finish a course they start in a particular year. While it’s easy to blame it on the students’ seriousness and motivation, that isn’t always the case; sometimes, there are barriers to learning that you might have subconsciously introduced into your eLearning program. The following suggestions will help you remove those barriers and enhance engagement in your online learning program.

1. Explore Different Means Of Content Delivery

With most eLearning programs, content is delivered using a solo approach; people either access eLearning content through that approach or they don’t learn. For example, if the content delivery mechanism is primarily videos, people who are unable to take advantage of the videos automatically find it difficult to benefit from your eLearning program, creating a disadvantage. Of course, we’re in 2017 so who on earth shouldn’t be able to watch a video? A lot, apparently. At least when you take a look at the poor internet speeds experienced by people in developing countries. That does not factor in people who have a preference for other content means.

It is also important to note that for many people, access to your Learning Management System can become practically impossible sometimes -- this especially applies if you take students internationally -- due to high level of censorship in which their government tries to restrict their access to international websites. And these people wouldn’t even be able to access your LMS with a VPN even if they wanted to, because their government have made VPN usage illegal.

To solve these problems, content could be delivered in low-bandwidth and high-bandwidth formats: For example, for every video you have slides that summarize the content as well as transcripts of the video. Content could also be delivered through other means: For example, by giving people an option to have content delivered directly to their email without having to login to your LMS; when essential documents can be accessed via email (which is unlikely to be blocked regardless of ISP restrictions), more people are able to engage with your content -- so even if access to your LMS is restricted, they have direct access to content in their inbox. If you’re worried about security, you can password-protect the content and provide only legitimate students with the password.

2. Create A Community For Members Of Your Online Learning Program

This could be a forum, a social media group or some other community. Regardless of what format the community takes, allowing members to interact with one another will significantly boost engagement rate as well as success in their academic pursuits. In fact, research shows that study groups lead to heightened academic performance and improved engagement.

If engagement is low in your online learning program, perhaps it is time to introduce a community.

3. Break Your Content Down

While you have a noble goal of wanting to educate people, it is important not to “throw out the baby with the bathwater”. Insisting that people go through your complex content because “that is the effective way to learn” could very well defeat the purpose of learning.

Research shows that we are suffering from declining attention spans, and that the average human attention span today is eight seconds. Research also shows that most people scan content instead of read it -- and you’d be surprised that this applies to multimedia content, too. So why not make the learning experience much easier by breaking down your content and summarizing and highlighting essential points at the end of each piece of content?

4. Make Content Interactive

One of the challenges of eLearning compared to physical, face-to-face learning is that it is more impersonal. It is often difficult to establish a connection between the learner and the instructor, and this not only poses a challenge to learning but can significantly reduce engagement. By making content interactive, however, not only do you help your learners benefit more from your program but you significantly boost engagement and follow through with your program.

Some effective ways to make content interactive include:

  • Introduce quizzes both in-content and after content sessions.
    This way, you can ensure learner engagement and understanding of the content being delivered. Don’t be surprised at how effective this can be; research shows that 96% of people who start a quiz finish them, and the most popular story on the New York Times in 2013 was a quiz.
  • Ask questions.
    Yes, there is the assignment or test or some other exam, but introducing a question or two inside the content and asking learners to pause and answer can significantly boost engagement.
  • Integrate a ratings and feedback system.
    hen people feel that they can shape the direction of your content, they feel more engaged. If your eLearning program is more formal in nature and people can face repercussions for giving you genuine feedback and content ratings, allow the opportunity to rate content and provide feedback anonymously.