Student engagement: Top tips for elearning strategies
- Jul 09, 2020
- By Sarah Jenkins
Learning professionals and instructional designers aim for as high a student engagement level as possible in creating online content for their audience(s). Why? Because the higher the engagement of an individual learner, then the more effective the content is in transferring knowledge to the individual. Accordingly, the higher percentage of knowledge transfer (thereby engagement) to the overall student size, the more successful the learning or content is.
Engagement and knowledge retention
In addition, the more engaged the learner, then the longer the knowledge is retained (although some external factors may impact on this – see: Shrestha, 2017, on Ebbinghaus’ ‘Forgetting Curve’.
So, what are the key elearning strategies to employ to maximise engagement? We will detail the top tips below.
Top tips for successful student engagement
A well-created, eye-pleasing, course goes a long way, in comparison to simple text in a document. Creating a clean, structured, module can considerably support the effort in grabbing and retaining the students attention. Keep the information on each page to a minimum, in order to engage the student in the course without overwhelming them
Use a range of creative design techniques
‘Pour some chocolate on that broccoli’! Keep the information fun and fresh by varying how you present the information on each page. For example, add videos, images, animations, and most importantly interactions. If available, utilize the newer tech available, such as Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Interactions allow the student to take what they are learning and test themselves. It keeps the student active!
Make it relatable
Relate the content you are giving them to real-life scenarios to capture the importance of the information. Relay the content to story and then base your presentation on telling that story. Convince the student that this is “need to know” not “may need to know” information. A study by Ryan and Deci, 2000, found that ‘relatedness’ is one of the key components in ensuring that students engage well with learning.
Micro Learning Micro learning Micro Learning! Don’t regurgitate all the information of a subject in one course. Take the subject and break it down into multiple ‘mini courses’. This elearning strategy allows the user to conquer and masters each part of the subject. Relate it to building a house. Adding assessments at the end of each mini course is key. This facilitates you as a content creator being able to nail down on where the student is lost. Studies have shown that the average attention span is 8 seconds (see this Infographic on Digital Information World). If each page of a course covers multiple sections on a subject, then it is quite likely that you will lose student engagement. For the crucial components of micro-learning, then see our Infographic on the subject.
‘Allow the curious cat to wonder’
If the elearning content is engaging then students will be curious to learn more. You must be prepared for this in creating the course structure. Provide multiple resources for the curious leaner to dive deeper into a subject. If it is a relatable topic to the learner’s day-to-day life, then provide them with case studies.
We recently discussed how you reach remote workers with informal learning, in practical terms. In recent times when global workforces have been forced, by an extreme external event, to work remotely then creating online content and delivering it via a number of channels, then mobile has become even more essential as critical health and organizational policies need frequent updating. Aside from the recent Covid-19 pandemic, Pandey (2020) claims that in 2020 mobile learning “moves from being a “good-to-have” to a “must-have” option”.
A study by Bouchrika et al (2019), on elearning gamification, details that gamification can be a strong tool to encourage learners and “increase their interactivity and engagement”. In our recent piece on informal learning technology and sales enablement, we discussed how gamification can particularly appeal to the profile of some client-facing employees to enthuse them. There are many elearning technology tools that can support online gamification, including things such as ‘ratings’, ‘badges’, ‘awards’ and ‘rankings’.
There are a considerable amount of studies and evidence to suggest that collaborative learning can enhance engagement. In a study on Measuring Students’ Sustainable Engagement in e-Learning, Lee, Hong & Song, 2019, found that collaborative learning emerged as “a significant factor” in achieving sustainable student engagement. In a further study, on ‘Critical success factors for the online learner’ Golladay, Prybutok & Huff (2016) find that ‘successful online learners discuss their learning with peers they and are motivated to learn’. How can you do this? When you have a considerable number of remote workers then consider the range of elearning technology tools that can be employed to support online knowledge-sharing, discussion and collaboration. Some platforms that support discussion and sharing may facilitate the reflection aspects of a ‘continuous feedback loop’. This aids students in improving their learning.
Learning support platforms and personalisation
Allow the content to be accessed any time on any platform. This relates back to micro learning. If you structure your subjects within courses to pinpoint each ‘mini section’ of the subject, then this allows students to later revisit that specific section, should they need a refresher on it. While also, a good elearning platform should be able to facilitate personalized recommendations, based on the student’s behavior. The eXact ‘informal learning’ suite ‘con-X’ provides this, and allows the engaged user to continue to develop their skills and knowledge by providing suggestions by the technology recognizing a pattern of behavior and also allowing peers or ‘functional’ groups to provide each other with appropriate content.
Consider your audience
So, here we have outlined our ‘top tips’ for elearning strategies on optimizing student engagement. There may, of course, be more strategies that could be engaged. Importantly, you should first think carefully about your own key audience(s). Who are they? What are their learning styles? How do they prefer to consume content ordinarily? Once you have considered this then you might decide that some of these strategies may deserve higher ranking than others in your list of priorities to appeal to your stakeholders.
eXact learning solutions has been supporting its global clients with ‘con-X’, a scalable, informal learning suite, as an extension of the Learning Content Management System (LCMS). For more information about ‘con-X’, our free infographic on ‘How informal learning technology supports sales enablement’ or for a free demo, then please contact us.