Education has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic; schools around the world are closed, colleges and universities have shut their doors to learners, while trainees and employees have been required to adapt to online learning methods.
At Creative Word, we’re fortunate in that we have always valued and encouraged ELearning as an important method of delivering training – we believe that digital teaching and learning should be as inspirational, engaging, informative and beneficial as conventional forms of education, so our online courses offer a variety of ways to encourage full engagement and offer learning outcomes that are valuable to both employees and employers.
However, some learners still feel that their engagement levels may be lower with a digital course.
We all know there are distractions at home that can sometimes seem difficult to avoid – the refrigerator, Netflix, the current book you’re reading, and so on, but according to Times Higher Education there is limited “hard evidence” that suggests the classroom is superior to an online learning experience.
Robert Bernard, Eugene Borokhovski and Richard Schmid, from the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance at Concordia University, Canada, told THE, there is “no empirical evidence that says that classroom instruction benefits students (compared to alternatives) from a learning achievement perspective”.
They considered it was more important that the teachers could “capture and challenge the imagination, based on the learners’ pre-existing knowledge”.
So, how can we improve overall learner engagement, and develop motivation in those learners who feel that digital learning isn’t for them?
The following solutions are ones that we use frequently at Creative Word, with great success, and that our learners have told us work for them.
Engaging in ELearning
As educators, it is important to focus on the objectives of the training as opposed to the ability to measure and quantify abilities of the trainees.
Testing and examining trainees may be necessary but the tests themselves must be engaging and motivating to learners. A set of multiple choice questions at the end of a module is not as engaging as writing a paragraph or two as a response to the set question.
Positive trainee engagement can be achieved through the following:
• Thoughtful learning/assessment tasks – questions and teaching tasks that require creativity to formulate answers encourage learners to develop their thinking and assess what they have learnt
• Collaboration between learners – engaging with other learners is something that classroom-based learning does well, and it should be no less successful with online learning. Using platforms such as, Zoom, Skype, or social media to enable trainees to connect with other learners gives an opportunity to explore collaborative tasks, encourage participation and to learn from your peers.
• Learning design for diversity – applying different methods of teaching for diversity means that there will be something for everyone. As individuals, we all have learning style preferences so the more adaptable the teaching methods the more chance there is of engaging with all learners.
• Engaging additional resources – learning resources such as, associated YouTube videos, TED talks, or links to other educational materials are helpful for those trainees that wish to expand their learning and those who prefer to engage with visual learning aids.
There are times when the measuring of performance is required by organisations to assess their employees’ abilities.
However, to use performance measuring as the main purpose for training (in other words, training for the sake of a specific qualification with no additional outcome for learners) has been shown to be less productive in the long-term and does not encourage full learner engagement or enduring retention.
Instead, firms may need to focus more on the wider positive business outcomes of advanced learning such as, increased productivity, improved leadership abilities, job satisfaction and better client fulfilment.
Rising to a challenge is rewarding and gratifying, whereas, being given a task that is too simplistic leads to frustration, lack of interest and reduced engagement.
Giving learners tasks such as, requiring them to publish a certain number of posts, give feedback to other learners, or add their own comments to an online teaching assessment are generally considered by trainees to be unhelpful in advancing learning or improving engagement.
Training that encourages autonomy, creativity, originality, critical thought and focused processes are more likely to generate greater learner engagement.