What does 2016 have in store for your learning audience? Here are a few ideas worth exploring as you map out your training plans for next year.
1. SURVEY YOUR LEARNERS (AND NOT JUST ABOUT THE LAST COURSE THEY COMPLETED)
Do you ever ask for input from your learners? You should. Audience input can of course be both good and bad, helpful and not helpful, but the value of actively asking for input is undeniable. Folks like to feel like their voices and opinions matter. The very act of asking learners questions is a great place to start for 2016.
Find out what folks engage with in their free time.
One of our biggest sources of user experience inspiration comes from the apps, websites, and games that we voluntarily interact with on our own time. We voluntarily engage with learning all the time outside of work as we try and rate new recipes, comment on the latest opinion piece, and master the latest hyper-addictive phone game. Sure, your training team doesn’t have an Angry Birds budget, but if over half of your learner audience voluntarily plays this game outside of work, maybe you can use some of the appealing features in your next learning course.
Ask your learners what they actually need help with on the job.
Crazy, right? But think about it. How much of your training is a result of an employee request, and how much of it is a result of someone “at the top” deciding that you must need more customer service training because sales are low? Your employees are your best subject matter experts, and they often know what resources would help them do their jobs better.
2. ON THAT NOTE, FEATURE SOME LEARNER-GENERATED CONTENT
One simple way to engage learners in 2016 is to incorporate their faces and voices into your training. This helps generate engagement and buy-in to new training initiatives, and can even breathe life into old and stale training topics. The easiest way you can do this yourself is by capturing real employee stories on video. The latest smartphones offer some top-notch camera features, giving everyone the ability to make great video clips without a big budget. Videos featuring real employees sharing their successes and struggles can really resonate with learners and offer interesting narratives that help ground abstract concepts in real world examples.
3. LET YOUR LEARNERS INTERACT WITH EACH OTHER
Most e-learning focuses on the individual learner experience. In fact, this asynchronous quality inherent in online learning is one of its main perks; anyone can take online training at any time. They don't need to go to a classroom full of people or an expert instructor. They don’t need anyone! It’s the ultimate freedom. But solitary learning can also be lonely and boring.
I don’t know if folks are afraid to let their learners interact with each other (in defense of this fear, all major political revolutions did in fact start with leaderboards) or they just don’t try it because most Learning Management Systems (LMSs) don’t support learner-to-learner interaction.
Either way, try some social learning in 2016. Implement a points-based leaderboard where learners can see how they’re performing against colleagues. Create a discussion forum where learners can discuss training topics and ask questions. Build a game where learners can wager points and challenge their colleagues to beat their score, generating a grassroots re-engagement with training content. Better yet, build a collaborative game where learners have to work together to achieve a common goal.
4. OFFER REAL-WORLD INCENTIVES AND REWARDS
We want money. There, I said it. We want money and respect. And unlimited time off. Hmmm, what else? Job security for life. I think that pretty much covers it.
In all seriousness, real-world rewards are a huge motivator when it comes to engagement, and we’re not just talking about cash monies. We’ve built courses and games where folks can earn certificates, badges/lapel pins, gift certificates, products, t-shirts, bobbleheads, an extra day off, even a trip to NogginLabs (which is basically heaven if you haven’t figured that out yet).
People will go to insane lengths to earn free stuff. We can wax poetic all day longabout our important content or our innovative training approach, but not even the best custom e-learning can trump the appeal of a t-shirt gun at a basketball game. Real-world incentives drive learner engagement, and higher employee engagementmeans higher work performance and company loyalty. Plus, doesn’t 2016 just feel likethe year to buy bobbleheads in bulk?