A recent employee survey by Software Advice, a site that researches learning management systems, reveals thought-provoking data on how corporate learning programs can drive employee engagement. It’s logical that studies of employee engagement involve understanding training program satisfaction. Investment in employee training is viewed positively by employees and prospective employees alike, as indicated in lists of “the best companies to work for”, because it is viewed as an investment in people.
Consider these three facts: 1) LMS’s support corporate training programs with centrally-managed content, administration and analytics; 2) only 39% of LMS users give their system’s feature set a high rating; and 3) all LMS’s are not equal. Taking these three facts into consideration, Software Advice queried employees to find out which LMS features could increase learner engagement.
The key findings?
- 58% want online learning content to be broken up into multiple, shorter lessons.
- 35% want real-life rewards based on learning progress.
- 24% prefer social networking in the form of discussion boards.
So, in instructional design terms, learners are asking for microlearning, gamification and social elearning.
But, learners have very specific ideas on of how they want these techniques to be integrated into their training. Consider what employees really want from corporate training, ensure that your LMS can effectively support what employees want, and use the requested techniques only if it makes sound educational sense and can be tied directly to learning objectives.
Microlearning involves dissecting learning content into “microscopic” learning bursts lasting approximately a few minutes per burst. In this survey, employees were specifically asked if they would be more likely to engage with corporate online training if the content was broken up into several five- to seven-minute lessons as opposed to a few hour-long lessons. 38% responded “much more likely” and 20% responded “somewhat more likely”.
Why Learners Like It:
- Microlearning matches the way the human brain prefers to process information (in short, manageable chunks).
- Learners do not always have the luxury to take long breaks from work for training.
- The time investment in microlearning is low—you get what you need quickly, or you don’t get what you need and move on without having wasted substantial amounts of time.
- Microlearning nuggets can be accessed on-demand and at the point of need.
- The microlearning format lends itself to self-directed learning.
- Consuming content microscopically over a period of time may help the learner to ultimately synthesize the information macroscopically.
Learn about microlearning
Gamification is the technique of using game elements (e.g., rewards, avatars, quests, badges, leader boards, immersive role plays) and game design techniques in non-game contexts (to make something that is not a game feel “game-like”). In this survey, 35% of employees preferred real-life rewards for having made progress in training.
Why Learners Like It:
- Games are fun.
- Games can be addictive, so gamification in learning can make learning addictive.
- Gamification harnesses the motivational power of games, and can change behavioral patterns.
- Competition can provide the impetus for follow-through on training.
- Games enable learning through failure, and/or the freedom to fail and try again.
While gamification has clear benefits in terms of increasing learner engagement, poorly implemented or over-used gamification techniques can cause learner engagement to plummet. Ensure that any game-based competition is healthy and collaborative, gaming techniques are tightly tied to learning objectives, rewards result in long-term learner motivation, and the game design techniques used are thoughtful rather than gimmicky.
See how we define gamification
Social learning involves learning through social interaction with others. Social learning is collaborative and is a form of informal learning. In this survey, 24% of respondents favored discussion boards as the preferred form of social learning interaction.
Why learners like it:
- We are social creatures. We like to talk. We want a voice.
- Studies show a positive correlation between social presence and online training—when the level of social interaction is high, online learning experiences result in higher content retention.
- Facilitates dismantling of departmental and geographical silos.
- Allows conversations to occur that may otherwise not take place.
- Provides quicker and easier access to experts.
- Builds interpersonal relationships.
Learn about social elearning
Engaging Your Learners
Learners show a high interest in microlearning, gamification, and social learning. These techniques have sound educational value, but ROI lies in thoughtful implementation.
An LMS is a tool with a certain set of functionalities and capabilities. Find the LMS that supports the techniques you want to incorporate in your training programs. And, become well-versed with your LMS’s features so that you can think through how you can flex those capabilities to design content with maximum impact.
Are you surprised by the survey results of what learners want from online training to feel motivated to engage in training? Please share your thoughts and experiences.
Gauri Reyes is a talent developer and learning leader with extensive experience in roles ranging from software management to managing the learning function in organizations. She is Principal Learning Strategist and CEO at Triple Point Advisors and Founder of the YOUth LEAD program. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.