One of my favorite childhood games was Monopoly. Actually, I still enjoy playing it every so often. That's right, I'm that person that wants to play Monopoly. After much thought and comparison with other favorite games, I figured out why. I like games that involve strategy and a cumulative element, specifically building up a cache of assets and seeing whether I can turn a profit. When it comes to these kinds of games, I'm sad to see the game play end (yet another thing most people don't seem to feel about Monopoly) because I've spent time building my real estate portfolio, and now it's gone.
If you start thinking about games, there are lots of them where this mechanic of building some sort of empire comes into play. The building process makes you feel invested in the game, and then you get to see how things play out. Which is all well and good in a game, but what about training?
Our industry has all sorts of bells and whistles available to help you engage your learners. Here are three ideas to make just about any e-learning engaging by getting your learners invested right from the start.
1. Let your learners set the stage
Even non-gamified training can involve learners in setting their own stage for the learning experience. They could choose a narrator character or specific story line to follow, and you've pre-determined that some story lines will be more difficult than others. Or you could create a modular e-learning that allows learners to build their own menu of content, based on their needs (not being forced to take training on stuff I already know = automatic increase in engagement). Another idea is to pose a question at the beginning, and learners work to uncover the answer throughout the course. There are lots of large and small ways to give people control of their learning experience right from the outset. What's important is that the choices they make in the beginning have some bearing on what happens in the middle and end. This is exactly what's at work in making strategy games so appealing.
2. Create a high-fidelity introductory hook
People are most likely to pay the most attention to a learning experience right at the beginning. Capitalize on that—and keep their attention—with a compelling introduction. Dispense with any preconceived notions that may keep people from investing your content, and show them that they're in for an engaging experience that will be useful to them back on the job. For help writing a great hook animation, check out this post.
3. Market your training
You have an opportunity to get people invested in your training before they ever make the first click into your LMS. Think about consumer marketing for new products. It's all about creating a buzz and getting people excited for something that's coming soon. Movie producers do a fantastic job with this. When building training for your own employees, you have many more opportunities to capture your future learners' interest than your average consumer marketer does. After all, you have a captive audience.
A marketing strategy for training can be small-scale, like a short commercial designed to drum up excitement. Or it can be a bigger effort with events, contests, and gaming elements coming together right from the outset. Whatever you choose to do, make it new and unexpected.