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Boosting learning engagement in 2020: the definitive guide – Part 1

Assessing the effectiveness of learning in the work environment is about more than just completion rates.

Happiness, morale, system usability, and motivation are big factors in both learning engagement and employee engagement as a whole. According to The Happiness Index, staff motivation is cutting productivity by up to 50% 1. So, what can your organisation do to boost this? And how does the learning user experience impact engagement?

First, let’s look at what we mean by learner engagement.

What is learner engagement?

Learner engagement is the level to which learners interact with and contribute to their own development.

This can be measured in a number of ways, from completion rates to the number of courses voluntarily undertaken by your learners, as well as information retention. But before we get onto that, let’s take a look at what we mean by User Experience (UX).

What is user experience?

User experience is the visual and logical journey a user (in this case your learners) or any website or piece of software undertakes in order to achieve a goal (for example, accessing relevant courses or submitting feedback).

The UX of your Learning Management System (LMS) is incredibly important to the success rates of your eLearning. As we progress through this guide, we’ll look at how and why in much more depth.

This guide will cover the following ways to boost Learning Engagement:

Part 1

  • Learning objectives & motivating your employees
  • Accessibility & flexibility of your learning

Part 2

  • Collaborative learning in the workplace
  • Knowledge-sharing and the importance of feedback

At the end of this guide, you will know:

  • The factors that need to be considered before creating a learning strategy
  • How workplace happiness and motivation impacts learner engagement
  • How investing in an LMS with good UX can motivate learners
  • The value of learner feedback and collaboration
  • How to create a learning strategy that can impact your ROI and organisational KPIs

“When people have a voice and an influence on decisions and outcomes they are more likely to participate and also to learn through participation”

Section 1: Learning objectives & motivating your employees

Motivation and goal-setting are key to the success of the learner experience you are providing your employees. When it comes to workplace learning, motivation comes in many forms. From the obligations of compliance training to the urge to strive for professional development, it’s vital you take the time to tap into the motivations of your workforce.

Once you have a great understanding of what motivates them, you can begin to shape learning objectives and in turn your learning strategy to meet the needs of both your employees and your organisational KPIs.

Goal setting as motivation

According to a study by Psychology Today, people who write down their goals are 33% more likely to both achieve and surpass them2. Consider how we all use goal setting in our lives both in and out of work. The simple acts of crossing an item off a to-do list, reaching a target in your fitness routine, or discovering a solution you’ve been trying to find for hours are powerful motivators that come with a fantastic sense of achievement.

From weekly shopping to quarterly sales meetings, most of our lives are already goal-oriented. Why should workplace learning be any different?

Before we focus on creating effective objectives, consider the following:

39% of employees feel under-appreciated at work
46% of UK employees don’t want to go above and beyond because they feel it won’t be recognised
360% increase in workplace engagement when managers include their employees in goal setting

The importance of objective-led learning

Think back to your days in school. Lessons were often shaped around learning objectives, allowing discussions, lesson plans, assessments, and activities to work towards a common goal. Workplace learning works much in the same way.

Creating learning objectives as a part of your learning strategy helps to keep everyone on the same track. These objectives also make it easier for your L&D teams and line managers to track progress and gauge achievement throughout your organisation.

The components of an effective learning objective

When it comes to setting objectives, whether for individual employees or your organisation as a whole, clarity is of the utmost importance.

We can break down a successful learning objective into three parts:

Be clear with learning outcomes

What skills will your learners develop as a result of the objective they’re being set? For example, the learning objective you are setting may enhance their customer service skills, help them to respond appropriately to a fire drill, or safely operate machinery and equipment.

What do you expect from your learners?

In order for your learners to effectively complete their objectives, they need a clear understanding of exactly what is expected. Whether this involves watching three videos on your LMS and completing their related quizzes, getting involved in a series of classroom-based learning activities, or reading through your organisation’s safety handbook, the process of learning needs to be clear and tangible from the word go.

This openness and clear understanding increases engagement in the learning activity and improves learning retention. This where the UX of your LMS also comes into play by providing clear routes to and through the required courses for their training.

How will your learners be evaluated?

Possibly the most crucial part of any learning objective, it is vital that your learners fully understand how their performance will be evaluated. This will aid learning engagement as they work towards a clear goal. Understanding elements of their training such as minimum pass results and the physical environment of upcoming learning will help them mentally and physically prepare for the task at hand, encouraging active engagement before the activity has even begun.

Employee vs organisational objectives

Now we’ve discussed how to be clear with your employee objectives, it’s time to consider how these can play into your organisational learning objectives and wider KPIs.

“People who write down their goals are 33% more likely to both achieve and surpass them.” – Psychology Today

The ideal situation to be in, is for all roads to point towards your organisation’s KPIs, whether you’re looking at rebranding, the best type of learning technologies for your strategy, or setting your learning objectives.

One of the best ways to link employee and organisational KPIs is to use a top-down model for objective setting. Use those with the most influence in your organisation to set examples for your employees to follow.

Questions to ask when setting organisation-wide learning objectives

  • What do you want your public image to look like? Especially to customers/clients
  • How can your internal processes and goals influence this image?
  • What behaviours and beliefs do you want to be central to your workplace culture?
  • Are there legal requirements specific to your industry/sector that need to be covered in your objectives?
  • Can you link employee behaviours to your organisation-wise KPIs?
  • Celebrating the successes of your learners

Now we’ve covered how you can create effective learning objectives, and have a way to measure employee learning engagement and performance, it’s time to look at the importance of appreciating and acknowledging successes.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to encourage motivation in your workforce is to celebrate their successes. Some employees will react better to more public recognition like a shout out at a meeting and others from a simple face-to-face chat, email, or pat on the back.

One of the best ways to keep workplace motivation up, across eLearning and beyond, it to prioritise appreciation of your employees. Consider the following:

79% – of people who quit their jobs cite ‘lack of appreciation’ as their main reason for leaving

We’ll tap more into appreciation and contribution in Part 2 of this guide. For now, it’s time to look into how to make your learning more accessible, flexible, and meet your employees halfway.

Section 2: Accessibility & flexibility of your learning

When it comes to looking for a new LMS, you want to know your investment will be worth it in the long run. With the pace that technology moves in our everyday lives, adaptability is everything. Whether you’re adapting to the needs of specific learners or the expansion of your organisation, your chosen LMS and its interface sits at the forefront of that transformation.

How does UX fit into this?

The User Experience (UX) of your LMS is a vital component of the adaptability and flexibility of your workplace learning. Kallidus Learn for example has been designed off the back of years of constant user research, tapping into the needs and habits of modern learners.

This comes about in the form of elements like the navigation (how your learners can find their courses, access their deadlines, and edit their profiles) and functionality for Single Sign On (SSO), right the way through to the little things like clear button text and Calls To Action (CTAs).

Before we move on to how this impacts accessibility, let’s look at some definitions.

Accessibility and learner engagement

Poor accessibility can be one of the primary blockers to strong learner engagement. Accessibility itself encompasses a lot more of your learning strategy than you may realise. Many things from slow loading speeds to unreadable text to too many on-screen distractions can deter learners from actively engaging in your content.

We’ll investigate the adaptability and flexibility of your learning content shortly, but first let’s take a look at the accessibility of your LMS.

How to measure the accessibility of your LMS

Number of clicks between their dashboard and courses

If you’ve ever looked into the importance of UX before in any context, you’ll have likely come across the principle of “reducing clicks”. This comes from the idea that users, or in our case learners, will lose more interest with every click they have to make (and screen they have to wait to load) between the page they initially arrive on and their end destination (in our case the course they wish to take).

Therefore, if you have a high number of clicks (we would consider any more than 4 to be too many) between your learners’ LMS home screen and the course they wish to take, the system is not considered very accessible and your learners will likely lose interest in their endeavour.

Font, text size and colour

Although this may seem like a small thing to focus on, it has a surprisingly big impact on learner engagement. With any kind of reading on screen, there are a number of best practices to follow for accessibility and good UX. The main factors to help increase readability and accessibility are:

  • High contrast text, dark on light (ideally black text on a white background)
  • Large text readable from a distance (Google recommends a minimum of size 16 font)
  • Sans serif fonts (these are the typically curved fonts such as Arial and Calibri)

Usability and fluidity across devices

Mobile learning has been an exciting part of the L&D world for a decade or so, since smartphones became a more prevalent part of our everyday lives. Twelve years on from the release of the first iPhone, it’s time for mobile learning to become a part of your everyday learning strategy.

However, simply having your learning accessible on a mobile device such as a phone or tablet isn’t the endpoint here.

A vital element of improving the UX of your system, and therefore increasing engagement, is ensuring the user experience matches up across all devices. The system needs to be intuitive enough for your learners to begin a course on one device and continue it on another.

Clarity of design

In the words of Julian Hector of the UX Collective in his 2018 article Storytelling for Designers:

“Time and focus are two conditions that our email-and-meeting-filled, open-floor-planned, laptop-in-our-faces-at-all-times workplaces don’t support very well.”

Therefore, when it comes to implementing an LMS, you need one without a distracting design that enables your learners to focus on the only thing they really need: their eLearning courses. This means avoiding busyness, too many moving graphics, pop ups, and other distractions from the moment your employees enter the LMS to the moment they’ve completed their learning for that session.

Now we’ve got accessibility covered, it’s time to look at the importance of the flexibility of both your LMS and learning strategy and the impact these can have on learning engagement.

Flexibility and learning engagement

Creating flexibility for your employees through both your choice of LMS and your learning strategy can go a long way to encouraging high levels of engagement in your learners. One of the primary ways to provide flexibility and choice for your learners is through the use of mobile and blended learning.

Two of the biggest (and most important) terms in the world of L&D right now are “point-of-need” and “on-demand” learning.

What is “point-of-need” or “on-demand” learning?

From accessing refresher training for specific engineering equipment to a quick overview of an internal IT system, point-of-need training is there to help your employees develop their skills and remain compliant whenever and wherever they need to.

What are the benefits of point-of-need training?

  • Improves learning retention
  • Encourages employees to take ownership of their training
  • Increases compliance and mitigates risk
  • Improves completion rates
  • Encourages the use of your LMS as a learning hub

That’s the end of part one…

Part two of our guide will be coming soon. In part two we will be looking at the importance of collaborative learning, knowledge-sharing and valuing input from your learners.

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Written by Claire Moloney

Claire is an enthusiastic and meticulous content writer whose passion is to support growth and continual learning for everyone.


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