6 Subtle Ways To Guide Online Learners And Encourage Self-Exploration In eLearning
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How To Encourage Self-Exploration In eLearning

Regardless of a learner’s age, everyone has their own learning preferences. Some are energetic and eager. Then, there are online learners who think it’s enough to show up. They don’t get involved or answer questions. Sometimes, they even cheat on their assignments, even as adults. To get the most from your eLearning course, you want all your online learners to be actively engaged. You can’t force them to participate, but you can encourage them to study. Here are 6 suggestions that will help you encourage self-exploration in eLearning.

1. End Each Module With A Question

It’s common practice to put a short quiz at the end of each lesson. It reviews what has been covered, tests recall, and monitors how well the material sunk in. These small online assessments are usually automated. Online learners get their results immediately, giving your LMS data and reference metrics. There’s an extension of this principle that can guide self-exploration in eLearning. After the little refresher test, include an open-ended question, the kind that needs thinking and research. It doesn’t have to be complex, but it should be something they can explore. You could pick it from the next chapter, as a primer. Inform online learners that you don’t want an answer immediately. You’d like them to think about it and respond during the next lesson.

2. Offer Study Tips For Homework

Some online learners prefer a wide-open space, but most want boundaries and structure. You may want them to think outside the box, but there has to be a box to start them off. To encourage self-exploration in eLearning, give your online learners a template that they can use. If you ask them to find out everything they can about a topic, offer sub-questions to guide their research. For example, what are the four pillars of your company’s brand image? Or what is the protocol employees must follow in the event of an emergency? This structures their research and gives them a direction for their thinking. They can begin here and explore their own angles. It’s helpful for online learners who may otherwise feel too intimidated and overwhelmed to begin.

3. Insert Real-Time Study Stops

Most testing formats use a timed approach. Online learners are given a pre-set period and they have to complete their task within that session. This structure can be used in miniature. During a lesson, ask online learners an open question and give them five minutes to respond.

Ask them to use the first two minutes to scribble their thoughts in point form. They should do this on a separate screen or on a sheet of paper. They should use the next two minutes to compile their results. When time is up, they can insert their answers into the computer. Offer a template on how the answers should be typed up.

4. Reward Effort

In traditional corporate settings, there are always ‘bonus marks’ awarded so that employees don’t get completely demoralized. Corporate learners might receive ‘free’ marks for attempting the question, even if they get it wrong. Adult learners, who study online, may feel too self-conscious to explore. It may stem from negative childhood attitudes towards education. You can help your adult learners along, using the ‘bonus mark’ system. Let them know that self-study isn’t compulsory, but if they pursue it, they will get extra credit. It could be in terms of leaderboard points, award badges for their profile, or discounts on their next eLearning course. It could even be in form of virtual chips they can cash in for rewards on the LMS platform.

5. Invite Free Thinking

Mind maps are a good way to expand anyone’s thinking, so incorporate some to encourage self-exploration in eLearning. Ask your online learners to use a stylus on a blank screen. They can use circles and arrows to practice thought-association. They write down a word or idea and draw a circle around it. Then they write a related word or idea, circle it, and draw an arrow linking it to the first.

The object of this exercise is to train the mind to widen its approach to concepts. A less complex version of this exercise is word-linking. Prompt online learners with a relevant word, then ask them to type the first word it makes them think of. If your LMS software has an inbuilt algorithm, it can process the word pairs into a word cloud that stimulates brainstorming.

6. Assign Group Tasks

Passive online learners may not be too keen on working in groups. However, for online learners who wouldn’t otherwise take initiative, this pushes them to do some solo work. Structure the groups, allocating a specific portion of the task to each online learner. This way, they can’t slack off and let their teammates do all the work. Break the work down into mini-assignments.

The task can be compiled into a video or infographic that can be presented to the class in real-time. Lots of LMSs have options like teleconferencing, live chats, or webinars to facilitate this. Ideally, each team member should present their portion of the task.

Forcing passive learners to participate in class is never productive, especially in eLearning. Instead, you should subtly nudge them to engage in their eLearning course. Encourage self-directed learning by placing an open-ended question at the end of each module. Advise them on how to effectively approach the question. If your eLearning course is self-prompted, include ‘blank/silent’ periods. The software will pause or stop for a few minutes and wait for the online learner to respond. Above all else, give online learners some room to grow and seek out online resources on their own. This may be in the form of microlearning online training libraries, clickable eLearning course maps, or eLearning course catalogs.

Do you know what your adult learners need to achieve their goals and tackle everyday challenges? Are you looking for ways to keep your adult learners engaged during your eLearning course? Download our free eBook Designing eLearning Courses For Adult Learners: The Complete Guide to discover, among others, the adult learner characteristics, the obstacles they need to overcome, ways to engage and motivate busy adult learners, and some amazing adult learning facts and stats you need to know as an eLearning pro.

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