While much stress is laid on the design, user interface and other technology centric aspects of e-learning, no light has been shed upon how to encourage learners to buy the concept of learning, leave alone sticking through to its completion. This is more so when the learners are employees. Little wonder then that some of the best managed e learning initiatives have bitten dust due to low levels of learner retention.
Clearing the final hurdle of assessment tests successfully is what most corporate learning programs aim at instead of seeing to it that learners have actually learnt to apply these skills to their working environment. In the absence of such an initiative, the program imparts knowledge to the employees without exploiting these acquired skills to the benefit of the organization.
Checking the current levels of motivation among learners can be achieved by evaluating them on the basis of the following criteria.
Expectations form the learning initiative
Interest in the topics involved
Value addition to learners provided by the initiative
Obstacles, if any, to learning
Encouraging learners to take up and stick to the program can be achieved by the following factors.
Holding the learners attention is the first step towards motivating them. Start the program with an attractive sequence and preferably have a senior addressing them through the system elaborating upon the benefits of the program to the learners. Tickling the learners sensory stimuli and extracting answers to thought provoking questions are other methods to hold learner interest.
Capturing or holding attention for the first few slides will do no good if the learner is not convinced of the significance of the course to him. This needs to be explained in detail, while stressing upon how the completion of the course will develop skills in learners that they would be able to apply to their daily jobs at hand. Learners must be able to identify the program to be beneficial both at a personal and professional level. Provide learners with a list of applications that would be made easy by the learning initiative.
Make the content interesting
Well organized content presented in small and easy chunks called learning objectives will develop interest among learners. Small chunks facilitate a sense of achievement on the completion of each one. A jamboree of media that combines audio, video, text, and graphics will make the learning process seem a cakewalk, and make it more enjoyable. Always take care to explain the content before starting to demonstrate its use.
Do not present the content in a complex manner that might shoo away potential learners. If learners lose confidence in themselves and find it extremely difficult to achieve the objectives of the program, or if learners feel that completing the program will require extensive effort or time on their part, they will probably be apprehensive about the whole exercise. To instill confidence in them, make them aware of the approximate time it might take to be over with a module, while providing them regular feedback about their advancement.
Absorbing important but difficult concepts is often a cumbersome exercise for the learners. Guidance is required in order to preserve complex theories. This can be done by providing relevant examples, explaining case studies and stimulating memory through congruence of facts or correlation. Graphical representations can also aid memory.
Make the experience rewarding
Small achievements call for a reward. Award certificates for successfully completing online tests. Alternatively, offer a promotion or a minor pay raise for crossing milestones in the program. Encouraging words from the supervisor too can do wonders to motivate learners. But the fact that they are able to apply skills to their daily jobs surpasses all other prizes.
Feedback of learners performance allows them to know their standing in the context of the program. Modules followed with short exercises provide guidance and improve comprehension on the part of learners.
Boost knowledge application
With almost all learning initiatives attaching importance to performance enhancement, it is important that the learners retain most of the learnt skills in order to augment productivity. Repetition is the age old method of doing this, which can also be alternatively achieved by electronic or online job-aids, references, templates, and wizards.
Motivating the learners not only increases retention in e learning initiatives, but is also a sure shot way of extracting better productivity out of employee-learners. And motivated learners can definitely take your program towards success.