7 Ways to Keep Learners Engaged and Motivated

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Instructional designers face many challenges in their work, not least of all the task of keeping learners motivated and engaged throughout an e-learning course. You don’t have the advantage of interacting directly with learners, making it difficult to adapt to needs on the fly – you’ll need to make your content attention-grabbing from the get-go. This is especially true during the Covid-19 pandemic where many people are learning from home, where there may be additional distractions for learners, who may also be suffering from screen fatigue (we know we all are!). Here are a few tips to help keep learners focused on your module from beginning to end.

1. Divide and conquer

There are many competing demands on learners’ time and attention, so instead of bombarding them with long, continuous streams of information, divide your content into easily digestible chunks that learners can tackle in short bursts. This holds true for assessments as well: smaller quizzes are preferable to one long final exam as this makes progress satisfying for learners and keeps them engaged from on section to the next. Also be sure to make use of multimedia – including a mix of videos, animation and sound bites will be much more engaging than text alone.

2. Collaboration and social interaction

Even e-learning can be social – learners are more successful in collaboration than isolation. Take advantage of social media, blogs or discussion boards and encourage learners to work together on projects and assignments. Learners will be more engaged if they don’t feel like they’re alone in their studies and are able to receive feedback and affirmation from their peers.

3. Make it interactive

It’s much easier for learners to be distracted if they are only passively participating in e-learning. Create activities for learners that encourage problem-solving and critical thinking. Design an environment that encourages learners to explore rather than simply absorb information. In doing so, you will enhance learners’ curiosity and thus maintain their attention.

4. Add gamification elements

Including games in your module is good for getting learners to engage with your content and can serve as an effective attention grabber. Quizzes and challenges can be used to recap information in a fun and exciting way. For added motivation, make the games competitive by incorporating a points system that allows learners to unlock achievements or collect badges – a little bit of healthy competition can go a long way in keeping learners’ attention. Put together a leaderboard or ranking system so learners can see their accomplishments, and make sure everyone feels like they have a fair chance of winning.

5. Vary your instructional strategies

Variety is the spice of life! And the same is true of instructional design. Not only does providing variety in your modules increase engagement, but it also grants learners a greater chance of success as it accommodates different learning styles. Try something new every time you design a course and mix it up when it comes to case studies, images, infographics, videos, quizzes and games, etc, as they encourage the learner to be proactive in different ways, boosting their motivation.

6. Keep it real

Knowing that the information being presented has real-world applications can be a game-changer when it comes to learner motivation. Instead of uninspired, irrelevant examples, give examples that are practical and applicable to learners’ everyday lives. Content is much more engaging when it’s more than just theoretical – when it’s perceived as valuable and actionable it will increase the retention of information.

7. Provide relevant and regular feedback

Being in the dark about how their studies are progressing can lead to demotivated learners. Incorporate constant feedback mechanisms into the course material, whether it be through games, quizzes, or other interactive exercises – this will prevent learners from becoming clueless about their progress. Make sure the feedback is immediately applicable so learners will be able to incorporate it into future exercises. Consider a progress tracker so learners know how far they have come and how far they have to go – motivation increases when success is visual.

We hope that these tips are helpful in your quest against dull learning solutions!

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Written by Rob Ewart


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