The definitive guide to boosting learning engagement in 2019
Hello again, and welcome back to our definitive guide to boosting learning engagement in 2019. In part one we looked at how to assess the effectiveness of your current learning strategy, what we mean by learning engagement and user experience (UX), and the first two big components of boosting learning engagement for modern learners.
In part one of our definitive guide to boosting learning engagement we covered:
- Learning objectives & motivating your employees
- Accessibility & flexibility of your learning
Not had a chance to catch up on part one?
In part two of this guide we will be looking at:
- 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 collaborative learning
- How to create a learning strategy that can impact your ROI and organisational KPIs
Let’s dive straight in with section 3.
Section 3: Collaborative learning in the workplace
When we think of engagement, the natural connection is activity. One of the best ways to encourage learner engagement is through active participation; workplace learning should be something your employees actively do rather than something that happens to them.
Leave ideas of obligatory trust falls and awkward silences at the door. Active engagement in modern learning moves beyond standard team-building exercises and towards collaboration and participation in the digital sphere.
What is collaborative learning?
Collaborative learning is, in essence, the process of learning together as part of a community (in our case a workforce). There are a wide range of ways this can be achieved and with more learning technology developing all the time, the possibilities are only increasing.
“Collaborative learning is one of the most important sources of knowledge-sharing and its value to your organisation shouldn’t be underestimated”
Why is collaborative learning important?
Whether it’s an in-house campaign generation session, off-site client meeting, or a group chat on WhatsApp, engaging in conversation about concepts and ideas simply makes the process more interesting. Beyond that, it helps us to be more creative, attentive, and engaged in our activities.
In a study from Stanford University, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology1, participants who acted collaboratively stuck to their tasks for 64% longer than those who worked alone.
Studies like this show us the impact of collaboration on basic human behaviour. This of course carries through into learning, in the workplace or otherwise. Collaborative learning also carries benefits for your organisation as a whole as it is one of the most important sources of knowledge-sharing and its value shouldn’t be underestimated.
Before we look at how to encourage collaborative learning, let’s look at some statistics.
According to a 2018 study conducted by Deloitte Insights:
How can collaborative learning be encouraged?
- Make use of online platforms popular with your workforce (Whatsapp, Facebook, etc)
When speaking at Learning Technologies 2019, Gemma Critchley from Aviva said “Follow the bright spots” – a phrase that has stuck with us weeks after the conference. Sometimes, encouraging new ways of working such as collaboration isn’t about creating a brand-new tool or developing new technology. Sometimes, we simply need to encourage our employees to use their current tools and applications in a new way.
Alongside collaboration functions in your LMS, it is important to investigate which collaboration platforms your teams are already using. From Slack to Whatsapp groups, meeting your learners halfway will encourage greater engagement in your learning strategies and discussions.
- Approach employees who organise group events/chats
Speaking of group chats, it’s not uncommon for any given office or workplace to have a fantasy football league or a Slack channel about pets of the office. If you catch wind of these group chats, it’s worth finding out who organises them. These employees already have social influence, so it can be worth approaching them to help you organise collaborative spaces to work outside of formalised training.
- Lead by example
There are many turns of phrase to explain the idea of leading by example and one of our favourites, as heard at Learning Technologies 2019, was “drink your own Champagne”. This doesn’t mean lavish celebrations without anyone else around you, it simply means that you shouldn’t expect others to try something you haven’t tried yourself.
Thinking of setting up a competition within your organisation for example? Make sure your L&D departments set an example and are some of the first to enter. Introducing a new course onto your LMS? Make sure to test run it before sending it out to the masses. Collaboration starts with leadership and example setting, so don’t be afraid to take the reins and jump straight in with collaboration yourself.
- Ask your employees what collaboration means to them
As we said earlier, learning is something that your employees should actively take part in, not something that should happen to them. With this in mind, it’s always important to get them involved in the conversation. Whether you’re sending out surveys, emails, notifications in your LMS, or simply sitting down and having a chat with people, ask your employees what collaboration means to them.
This can go a long way to helping you form an effective learning strategy, as well as motivating your employees by getting them involved in the process of your ongoing L&D projects. Meaningful conversations like this one are a huge part of collaboration, so taking the time to sit down with people and ask this simple question is another way you can lead by example.
- Provide quantifiable outcomes
Understanding what is happening and why it is happening go a long way to boosting engagement. Not applying simply to learning, or even the workplace, this natural curiosity and need to understand fuels our drive to succeed. Context is everything.
It may seem contradictory, but we’re living and working in world where technology increases both remote/individual working and the need for collaboration in the workplace. While there is a growing need for collaboration, there is a chance that employees may need a little guidance as to the purpose of it; how it will impact them and not just the organisation or management. Providing quantifiable outcomes, objectives, and the genuine impact of this collaboration is a great place to start.
- Vary the forms of collaboration
Just as there’s no one set way to learn, there’s no one set way to collaborate. Whether you’re calling in-house team meetings, using multi-national WhatsApp or Slack group chats, or coordinating a national LMS-based campaign, the most important thing is to find a way to engage your employees in what is relevant to them.
You know the old saying “two heads are better than one”? This is the bare bones of collaboration. Taking employees out of there regular working routine in order to collaborate will boost engagement by providing new stimulus. That is why it’s important to mix things up, otherwise all you’re doing is adding something new into their routine. Do not be afraid to branch out and try new forms of collaboration, big or small, and find what works for your organisation.
- Incentivise with development
Career development and self-directed learning have been huge focuses for both L&D departments and individuals over the last year and these are only set to increase. Sit back and think about your own career for a moment: how many times have you moved jobs, companies, careers, because you felt there was a lack of opportunity for development?
There is no such thing as a job for life any more, so keep your employees engaged with collaboration through the promise of personal and career development. It’s important to come through on those promises, otherwise you risk losing engagement and decreasing morale. Continuous learning and development is a promise worth keeping, as it benefits everyone in the long run.
Now we’ve looked at the fundamentals of collaborative learning, let’s take a closer look at the importance of valuing input from your learners in the realms of the LMS and overall learning strategy.
Section 4: Knowledge-sharing and the importance of feedback
From instant feedback to user generated content (UGC), input from your learners comes in a multitude of forms.
Whether you’re implementing a new LMS, rolling out a new learning campaign or just looking to drive engagement, encouraging input from your learners (and then valuing it) should be high on your priority list.
First up, we’re going to explore the impact of UGC. Before we go any further, let’s look at a definition:
How does UGC fit into learner engagement?
We’ve discussed the importance of your learners actively engaging in your content through both parts of this guide. Engagement doesn’t come much more active than contributing directly to the learning materials available to a wider team of people.
Providing something as simple as video upload straight from any device onto your LMS has been shown to improve engagement rates in learning.
Similarly to our discussion earlier about collaborative learning, UGC is the content-driven equivalent of having a group brainstorming session and contributing ideas to the wider group.
“Workplace learning should be something your employees actively do rather than something that happens to them”
User generated content and engagement in the wider marketplace
If you’ve heard the term UGC outside of the world of L&D before, it’s probably been to do with social media. There’s a huge range of research available proving the importance of UGC on these platforms and to marketing in general.
We spoke in Part 1 of this guide about the importance of forming UX that your learners will be familiar with, such as those on platforms like Facebook and Netflix. Engagement with UGC works in a similar way – it is something many learners will already be aware of from the wider world and it puts them at the centre of their learning experience.
Let’s take a look at some statistics about UGC engagement in marketing:
How does this translate to success in learning engagement?
- Places learners at the centre of their experience
Engagement across a wide range of platforms increases as you put the user (in our case learner) at the heart of their experience. From personalised recommendations on Netflix to the popularity of selfies on Instagram, user-centered experiences are everywhere and are proven to increase engagement in a huge range of content.
- Increases personalisation of content
From learning pathways to emails addressed directly to us, personalisation is a normal part of our everyday lives online. A huge part of integrating continuous learning into the lives of a modern workforce is echoing the developments of the world around them outside of work. Personalisation is proving one of the most important factors of learning engagement, and allowing your learners to create their own content is one of the best ways to encourage this.
- Democratises the learning environment
This comes back to what we were saying earlier about the importance of active engagement. In the same way UGC involves customers more directly in marketing practices, it democratises learning environments. The integrating of UGC into your learning strategy removes the heavily top-down model that workplace learning often follows and allows your learners to have their say and actively contribute their knowledge in a way that benefits everyone.
- Increases trust between learners and the organisation
This one works on a number of levels. Firstly, remember our stat earlier about 88% of consumers trusting reviews from other users? Having content created by learners for learners is a great way to build trust in the learning content provided, as well as the organisation as a whole. Secondly, this authentic, grass-roots content is more likely to be perceived as genuine and less about the organisation’s agenda. Finally, UGC is shown to increase trust in brands and the quality of the products – the same can be said of organisations and their approach to training.
- Values learner contribution
One of the most important factors of overall workplace motivation, as discussed in part one of this guide, is having input valued by employers. UGC in learning is a great way to ensure your employees feel that their input is valuable and trusted by those in their own teams, in L&D and higher up. While content can be moderated by management and assigned to be viewed by specific groups of employees, this direct involvement in the learning experience of their peers is a fantastic way to increase engagement, boost morale, and keep employees motivated in the workplace.
Instant feedback and learner reviews
The final element of learner engagement we’re going to look at is the importance of feedback and reviews from your learners. Another form of user generated content (and perhaps one of the most valuable), learner feedback and reviews allow your L&D teams to evaluate the effectiveness, ease-of-use, and interest levels of your current learning content.
Kallidus Learn, for example, allows learners to give courses a publicly viewable (within the organisation) star rating and instant comments for a piece of learning content as soon as they’ve completed it and, for those who wish to provide more in-depth feedback, review forms within the LMS are available.
“When you make it hard for consumers to leave a review, they’ll tend to leave reviews only when they’re really fired up. Usually, this happens after a bad experience”
The importance of feedback when creating your strategy
When creating or re-evaluating your learning engagement strategy, reviews are an inexhaustible source of valuable information. Gaining an understanding of usability, interest, and retention from those who actually use the system and engage with the content will allow you to create a better experience for everyone involved.
Learner reviews and feedback also enable you to tailor your engagement strategy towards content that you know works as well as discover and fix any technical bugs you may have in the system quickly, before the impact spreads and negatively impacts engagement.
Once again, this taps into the motivation factor for learners of having their input valued which makes them more likely to contribute and engage in the future.
Throughout both part one and part two of this guide, we’ve covered the impact of UX, motivation & morale, objective-setting, collaboration, and the value of learner input on overall learner engagement.
With our complete guide at the ready, it’s time for you to create your own learner engagement strategy and we’ve got just the thing for you: a template to create your very own learner engagement strategy for your organisation – you can thank us later!