How To Engage Your Learning Population

User Engagement: Engage Your Learning Population
Summary: At Skill Pill, we found that when it comes to marketing our content, there is a wealth of different approaches—some good, some bad.

Creating Buzz And Engaging Your Audience

Let’s face it, in the eLearning industry, the biggest challenge we are currently confronting is user engagement. So how can we turn this into user uptake?

1. From Object To Subject

Ever since Donald Kirkpatrick developed the eponymous Kirkpatrick Learning Model in 1955—which distinguishes between four levels of learning: reaction, learning, behavior, and results—this approach has proven to be very easy to misuse, despite it being one of the most commonly used methods to evaluate the effectiveness of learning solutions.

More specifically, within this rather linear model, the learner is branded as the "object," creating a certain passivity in students as a result. However, the solution may be to turn the learner into the "subject"; in practice, this means that learning would be something they do, rather something that is done to them. By giving the learners individual agency, they will always be more engaged, and importantly, more likely to return.

2. Digital Relevance

There can’t be a discussion around content marketing without mentioning the concept of digital relevance. When individuals don’t look at the information sitting in front of them, what they are saying is “I don’t believe this information is relevant to me.”

We can break this down into two coordinates. Organizational relevance is one of them, and it usually involves non-negotiable commitments we have made to ourselves and our organization, causing us to behave in a particular fashion. An example of this would be wishing to become more customer-focused, more agile, or more enterprising.

Secondly, we must bear in mind that people will not look at self-directed learning unless there is a personal motivation behind it. They will ask, “What’s in it for me?” The motivation may be learning soft skills such as "strategic influencing," "building trust" and "active listening"—and this is what you wrap these halos of content around. Once individuals are aware of what they need to learn (usually based on their upcoming diary dates), they are then keen to find the right content to support them. Personal relevance is key, individuals need to understand how learning helps them on an individualistic basis.

 3. User Experience

So now that you have the user’s attention, from here, the next five minutes are crucial. If it takes longer than this for someone to find, access and consume the content, then you’ve lost them. Consequently, the User Experience ought to be increasingly more agile and responsive, so that they take part in the smoothest learning journey possible.

Nonetheless, we must be wary of the "Netflixization" of learning, where content becomes "infotainment" and individuals are passively browsing, instead of applying themselves to the learning. This has prompted us here at Skill Pill to address this, by adding a series of overlays on top of our courses (think Amazon X-Ray). This enables the learner to be more active and engage with more resources. The more an individual engages, rather than simply browses, the more they retain, which makes the process more successful.

4. Data Tracking

Now let’s talk data. Actively mapping the user or organization through data tracking, and using the findings to retail the content, is key to increasing the user uptake.

For example, one of our clients in the past had noticed that during a certain period, learners were engaging particularly with content around "stress management" and "mindfulness," thus creating a digital footprint in the organization. We then suggested to pro-offer this material into the 'Recommended for you" section within the Skill Pill portal, in a bid to be on top of the company’s trends—and as a result, to make the learners more receptive.

5. Keeping Note Of The Organization’s Circadian Rhythm

Depending on the business’s overall disposition and internal trends, we can change the digital aisles of our Learning Management Systems to reflect this. For instance, we can curate content at the start of the week to cater to "Motivational Monday"; similarly, by the end of the week, the users could be confronted by a different mood of material such as "Reflective Friday." This allows for content streaming to be concurrent with the mood and activities that are ongoing in the business, and of course, keeps the learners on their toes.

While we have spoken a lot about the various methods for engaging learners with content, it is equally necessary to consider the methodology behind the creation of microlearning content and its subsequent delivery. It is difficult to encourage the uptake of the content without having a full understanding of how that content is designed and delivered.

6. Delivering Content

This is a vital step, which requires consideration from the very inception of content. Before the learning content has been created, you should know how you want it to be delivered and eventually consumed by learners. In the modern world, this is more important than ever, and content delivery needs to reflect modern realities. Learning content cannot be isolated and contained within a single set of circumstances.

Are you on a train or in the back of a taxi and want to catch up on that TV show you missed? No problem. Learning needs to do the same. Driving uptake is about making content available anywhere; the easier it is to access, the higher the chances are that employees will use it.

7. Shorten The Content

No one wants to listen to a boring or excessively long piece of content. Their attention span will wane, they will lose interest, they will fail to understand its relevance, and inevitably, they will not remember what they were learning. The solution to this is simple: cut it down! Break down the content into small, actionable chunks and then suggest more relevant content—don’t try and fit it all into one video.

The second part of this provides additional benefits, it allows you to recommend more related content. You don’t want to force learners into content, you want to guide them and provide choice. French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, famously said, "If you wish to build a ship, do not divide the men into teams and send them to the forest to cut wood. Instead, teach them to long for the vast and endless sea." This old saying speaks to a clear truth: active participation yields the best results. This applies to learning as well, it is always far better to guide users to content and have them discover the opportunities for themselves, rather than attempting to force it upon them.

8. Actionable Content

A step which goes hand in hand with the shortening of content is ensuring that the content is actionable, and thus doubling its usefulness and increasing relevance. Content will always provide information, that is its primary purpose. However, if you can make that content actionable, by providing information that can be absorbed, it can then be applied immediately to a situation such as a big meeting or sales pitch. It not only makes the content more useful, but it also provides another reason for individuals to access the content, and therefore, drives engagement and uptake.

9. Make It Visually Engaging

Our final consideration for content should be its presentation. When you look at what goes into creating learning content, final appearances can often be overlooked. Yet, it is vital. No one is going to engage with material which isn’t appealing or enjoyable. You need to make the content interesting and easy to watch, if it is just a minute after minute of talking without any engaging visuals, or it is presented in an old-fashioned 80s style, it will not prompt any users to engage, and certainly will not make them come back.

At Skill Pill, we’ve found that high-quality animation engages learners and helps to increase uptake. It is visually stimulating and provides the ideal platform for conveying messages.

To conclude, it is vital to not only think about learning and training people, but also about getting them to take responsibility for their learning and career pathways. This will result in a more engaged learner, who will not only be cheaper to work with but who will also be able to successfully share their insights with others.

The design and delivery of content are the two pillars of creating user engagement and personal responsibility when approaching learning. These tips will benefit any organization that is seeking to create a more conscious, independent, and beneficial environment of learning.