We live in an age of online learning. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a 3,000-person organization, a nimble startup, or a university professor. By 2026, the global eLearning market is forecast to reach $400 billion, up from almost $200 billion in 2019.
Online instruction may be sought for many different reasons: employee training, partner education, and new hire onboarding. But no matter the motivation, your content must be easy to digest, apply, and innovate on to provide effective online learning.
If you’re not sure how to create the best, most effective online learning programs for your needs, read on to learn how to make eLearning engaging.
1. Use a Learning Management Platform (LMP)
One simple way to make eLearning engaging is using a learning management platform. The use of LMPs is on the rise. Some 83 percent of learning professionals report using learning management technology. The main reason? To deliver eLearning content (76 percent).
These platforms make it easy to create high-impact training programs with interactive experiences that learners enjoy. The goal is to deliver content in a structure that is apparent and predictable to learners, so they can navigate courses easily.
A platform like WorkRamp lets you create branded academies that offer:
- Live and asynchronous learning sessions
- The ability to deliver course material on any device
- Simplified course assigning, event scheduling, and group management
- Two-way live coaching sessions through Zoom
- Easy-to-build challenges and certifications
WorkRamp comes out of the box with all the features necessary to build energizing training programs. It offers an intuitive interface with drag-and-drop course creation tools to develop engaging learning experiences.
“WorkRamp allows us to deliver internal employee and external customer and partner training — all in one platform. It’s incredibly easy for trainers and reps to pick up, bolsters organizational agility by centralizing training content in one system, and has all the enterprise features that allow us to scale confidently and quickly.”
— Nadia Provencio, Director of Global Training and Operations, 8×8
2. Format course material properly
Good formatting can make learning easier and adds a degree of professionalism to your lessons. Content should be easy to understand and navigate. The typical attention span is between 10 and 15 minutes. So you’ll need to adapt eLearning content to keep people engaged.
When it comes to online learning, format refers to four core things:
- Course length
- Interactive elements
- Voice, tone, and style
Take customer service CRM Kustomer, for example. The organization focuses on the learning experience first, then fits the content to match. In a recent webinar, Kustomer’s Learning Solutions Manager, Kristi Thurston, explains how visual interest and interactive elements keep learners attentive, even when distractions come up.
Thurston leverages video formats for most learning material. They use a fun, upbeat style throughout the content, incorporating elements like Flashcards and Buttons to keep people engaged.
“Focus first on what the learning experiences will be like, and then fit the content into that.”
– Kristi Thurston, Learning Solutions Manager, Kustomer
Casey Keenan, a senior L&D manager at Compass Group, agrees. He recommends using a variety of content types to keep learners engaged, such as:
- Tactile click-throughs
- Mock interactions
- Virtual activities
Regardless of which content type you choose, follow these guidelines to create high-impact lessons:
- 3 to 5-minute lessons, max
- Break up lessons over 10 minutes into sections
- Show more videos than slides
- Add interactive elements
- Use a casual, yet high-energy tone
3. Create relevant content for the role
A smart way to make eLearning engaging is by connecting online learning to offline experiences. Learners need to link what’s being taught online to practical outcomes and understand why it’s useful.
Questions, conflicts, and emotions employees experience on the job can connect to online and offline events. When creating your course content, provide users with a context that simulates real-life and allows them to practice specific behaviors.
Some ways to show true-to-life situations are:
- Tell a story about the learner’s world. You can show real-life situations employees face and provide possible solutions for overcoming them.
- Create scenes that reflect the employee’s role. When people relate to a situation, they are more likely to stay engaged.
- Stir up emotions through imagery. If you’re talking about negative outcomes due to poor actions, show images that reflect how it feels when there is a bad outcome.
4. Provide social learning opportunities
Community-based learning, or social learning, involves bringing learners together to share their experiences throughout the learning journey. It’s based on the Social Learning Theory, which highlights that direct reinforcement alone cannot help everyone learn. Learning can also occur through observation, imitation, and modeling.
Some 91 percent of L&D pros agree that teams that learn new skills together are more successful. Social learning gives people the chance to connect with other employees and foster a sense of belonging amongst teams. People who use social learning features tend to engage more with learning content, watching 30x more learning material on average than those who don’t.
The goal of social learning is to encourage people to share what they’re learning. Here are some ways to put social learning into practice:
- Set up times for the expert and learner to chat about lessons
- Set up Q&A sessions where groups can ask experts questions about the course
- Create a wiki in your learning management platform where groups can improve a project or document
- Give users the option to comment on lessons
- Set up virtual or physical learning circles where people can discuss course material
- Create groups on Slack or Microsoft teams and invite learners to share insights
“Technology alone cannot create the sense of community that is needed for effective online learning. Participants in an online environment can perceive a sense of isolation when social connectedness is not created and encouraged.”
— Billi L. Bromer, contributor, eLearning Engagement in a Transformative Social Learning Environment
5. Gamify learning
Gamification can help you make online learning exciting. It encourages learners to achieve goals, motivates them to learn, and makes them feel more fulfilled throughout their learning journey. Studies even show that games benefit well-being and keep people engaged for longer periods of time.
Gamification is the process of applying game elements to learning material. Most courses are function-driven, with the goal of completing tasks out of necessity. Gamifying elements motivate learners by desire. According to Gartner, more than 70 percent of organizations are already using gamification.
Gamification also helps:
- Clearly define goals
- Provide frequent feedback
- Offer consistent coaching
“Games have the amazing ability to keep people engaged for long periods of time, build meaningful relationships between people, and develop their creative potential.”
— Yu-kai Chou, author of Actionable Gamification
There are many gamification strategies you can use in your learning environment. Some popular options include:
- Point systems. Where you assign points for completing different tasks. Learners can acquire points that allow them to join events, take advantage of travel opportunities, and other rewards.
- Interactive leaderboards. Show progress between different teams and members. Leaderboards create friendly competition and can encourage people to work towards a common goal.
- Certification programs. Reward participants with a certificate that showcases their expertise. They can share it with colleagues on LinkedIn and use it to advocate for internal promotions or raises.
- Contests. Turn learning activities into a competition. Select the metrics users will compete on and a timeframe. The winner can get a restaurant gift card, free lunch, or another enticing reward.
6. Offer mentorships
Mentors serve as role models in workplace settings. They aim to help another person achieve their goals, professionally and personally. Mentors connect with learners to provide support, guidance, and help in whatever they can.
Employees are more engaged when mentors hold them accountable to apply their learnings. A recent Deloitte survey found that 68 percent of employees with mentors were more likely to stay with an employer for over five years, versus the 32 percent without one. Having a mentor to answer your questions and guide you throughout training is more rewarding than simply completing a course.
“Mentoring is indispensable to learning throughout our careers, not just while we’re wet behind the ears. It’s how we identify and fill critical gaps we’d struggle to address on our own.”
— Tamara Erickson, co-author of HBR Guide to Getting The Mentoring You Need
7. Get feedback
You can’t improve on what you don’t measure. To measure the impact of your eLearning programs, collect assessments from learners through qualitative feedback and employee engagement surveys. You can use the feedback to make course material more engaging and maximize training time. Half of L&D pros (50 percent) use employee engagement surveys to assess the impact of learning programs.
Possible questions to ask in your survey include:
- How do you feel about the learning pace?
- Do you feel you can do your job well?
- Are you feeling overwhelmed?
You can also track learning experiences through WorkRamp Challenges. If a learner doesn’t pass a specific checkpoint, it’s likely the content didn’t resonate. Survey learners continuously to ask about their experience and find areas to improve so you can create truly amazing programs for your organization.
Build your eLearning courses today
Online learning is an integral part of any successful organization. Use these guiding principles to create an effective learning experience and build connections between learners. With a Learning Management Platform like WorkRamp, you can deliver predictable, useful content that learners engage with and see better business outcomes across your organization.
Want to learn more about how to use WorkRamp to create eLearning content? Contact us to schedule a free demo.
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Michael is a SaaS marketer living in Guadalajara, Mexico. Through storytelling and data-driven content, his focus is providing valuable insight and advice on issues that prospects and customers care most about. He’s inspired by learning people’s stories, climbing mountains, and traveling with his partner and Xoloitzcuintles.
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