We’ve all been there: there’s a project we’re supposed to be working on, but the siren call of social media lures us to Facebook–for a quick glance!–and an hour goes before we know it.
In theory, mobile-ready and online learning management systems let people take their training courses whenever and wherever they want. What could be better?
In reality, though, having all your training materials online means that you’re competing with all the other distractions out there on the internet. Sure, there are apps to help keep you focused by minimizing distractions, but don’t put all the burden on your trainees. Help them out by creating trainings that are worth their attention.
Here are tips to keep learner attention online.
Make sure people are speaking the same language
Why are we doing this again?
This is the question that no trainer ever wants to hear. Realistically, sometimes the information you’re covering is going to be a little more exciting than others. Your trainees get that.
But if your trainees also understand why they’re taking the training and how it fits in to their role in the organization, they’re more likely to care about the training, even if it’s not earth-shattering. In addition to making the purpose for the training crystal clear right up front, recruit internal experts from your organization to contribute to your training materials.
Whenever possible, use things like video so that learners get a sense of the person behind the information. Watching a video clip of the VP of Sales will most likely be more engaging than reading a PowerPoint slide of the same information. Having contributions from people from all parts of the organization also sends the signal that this material really is important, which gives trainees another incentive to engage.
Get people talking to each other
Don’t abandon your trainees to the wilds of the internet, all by their lonesome. The social element is a big part of the reason we turn to social media platforms, after all.
If your training is purely online, find a way to have employees interact with each other using the online training software. Most platforms offer forums and discussion boards as ways to get people interacting with each other. But go beyond just pointing out the technical features and develop activities that mimic the ways your employees interact with each other in the course of their jobs.
Most likely, people aren’t just sitting isolated at their desks, working on their own projects and never interacting with anyone. Yet, that’s often exactly what we ask people to do with online training modules. It’s boring and it feels completely separate from the important tasks of work, so people do the training grudgingly, if they do it at all.
Instead, figure out how you can align your training–and organizational–goals with the kinds of activities you include in the trainings. When you can, encourage people to bring training material from the online world to their day-to-day tasks. Avoid the tendency to separate the “training reality” from the “real life” of work by asking people to apply information from their trainings to the actual jobs. This is another reason it’s handy to have upper-level management looped in on the conversation about your training program: they can reinforce these connections in conversations about work goals and employee performance.
By getting people to work together, trainees are more likely to talk things through, make connections to other parts of their work, and get to know their coworkers. All of these things benefit learning outcomes, but they also help build a positive company culture.
In a perfect world, we’d always have enthusiastic trainers leading organized, well-planned activities for eager learners.
Since that’s not the world we live in, borrow a trick from the video game world and offer incentives. Humans like to play, and for some people, just having some kind of leaderboard that tracks things like completion rates and accuracy among trainees can turn a required training into a game.
Depending upon your organization, you can offer teams or individuals recognition for completed trainings or for their ability to apply the training information to their job functions. Often companies offer things like small gift cards or other tangible rewards for a training job well done. Think creatively here and find out what motivates your crew; sometimes things like extra recognition from peers or management or even extra time off are what people are looking for.
In conclusion, you absolutely can make online trainings more productive and fun, even if they might never be as popular as cat videos. We’d love to hear more tips in the comments!
I'm endlessly fascinated by how people learn, and I'm happiest when I'm in the process of learning something new myself.
When I'm not working on marketing for Avizr, I can be found teaching Spanish, working with my student teachers, hanging out with my dogs, and exploring the many trails around Bellingham.