The LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report 2019 lists the following seven top focus areas for talent development.
The second focus area in the above list, “Increase engagement with learning programs” aims to provide the employee with interesting and useful workplace learning programs to improve participation.
So how do we go about it and what are some foolproof tips and tricks to achieve optimum learner engagement? In this blog post, we look at techniques like ‘Nudge Theory’, ‘Spaced Learning’, ‘Gamification & Digital Badges’, ‘Scenario-Based Learning’, ‘Microlearning’, ‘Storytelling’, and ‘Videos’, which help learning experience designers improve learner engagement and deploy interesting workplace learning solutions.
Table of Contents
Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize in 2017 for his work in behavioral economics. In 2008, he co-authored a book titled “Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness”. The book offers some interesting insights into why humans make decisions and how ‘Nudge Theory’ works as a behavioral trait that influences people to take decisions and act accordingly. Nudge Theory can be summarized as follows – “By shaping an environment through positive reinforcement and indirect suggestion, one can influence the behavior and decision-making of groups and individuals.” Nudge Theory is used in various scenarios and industries. Healthcare practitioners and fitness apps use nudge theory to remind users about taking medicines on time, exercising, portion control while eating. The theory is used by shopping portals to display ads while we browse the internet and influence purchase decisions. Banking service providers use the theory to send out automated messages and emails to customers about payment reminders and insurance premiums. In the next section, we will see how Nudge Theory is used in L&D.
Nudge Theory in Learning
Be it a learning management system, a learning experience platform, or a mobile learning app, L&D teams can use Nudge Theory to help their learners meet their learning objectives. Here’s a scenario detailing how it works.
Peter is a young employee who has joined TGZ Investments as a sales executive. His job involves him calling up potential customers and selling them a variety of insurance and investment products by making phone calls. Once the prospect is convinced, they can complete the entire transaction online guided by Peter.
Peter’s manager David has assigned a course on “Negotiation & Persuasion” to Peter. Available on the company’s learning system, the course will help Peter communicate without fear with prospective customers. The interactive learning course is of 90 minutes and Peter allots himself 15 minutes every day at work in the morning to focus on the course. But things do not go as planned and Peter is focused on meeting his daily target of calling prospective customers. The learning system is programmed to send reminders to Peter to complete the course. He receives two emails to his company email and two messages on his registered mobile number a day to complete the course.
Peter ignores these messages for the first few days. Then he receives an email from his manager asking the status of the course and if he found it effective. Peter replies in embarrassment stating that he has not been able to go through the course and promises to complete it soon. Peter takes the course and completes it across two days in batches of 45 minutes each. On completing the course an automated email goes to him and David with the status. This is how Nudge Theory works in learning. You can also use it to send reminders to students to complete assignments, pick up from where they stopped in the previous learning session, and share the progress of co-learners to motivate a group of learners to complete the course.
Using Nudges Effectively
So how do we use nudges effectively? Here are some tips:
- Think carefully and program nudges that foster learning.
- Do not use nudges just for the sake of ticking boxes.
- Frequency of nudges to be optimal – do not spam learners.
- Personalize nudges instead of sending generic messages.
- Make the emails interesting with visuals instead of just bland and boring text.
- Use analytics to test the efficacy of the nudges sent and replicate the best-performing ones.
The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve is an important part of how learning is perceived and deployed. Developed by Hermann Ebbinghaus in 1885 to test his learning and memorization powers; the project is the first documented example in the modern world of loss of learning unless it is reinforced. Let’s look at the ‘Forgetting Curve’ illustration sourced from Gwern.net.
Spaced Learning essentially stresses upon the importance of reinforcing learning by repeating the learning content at regular intervals. Ancient monastic orders in India, China, and Japan focused on the art of chanting prayers by young monks to help them remember prayers and hymns easily. If one examines this at a surface level, spaced repetition is nothing but an extension of this ancient practice of repeating something orally multiple times until one memorizes the content thoroughly. Microlearning, bite-sized learning, or learning nuggets – whatever name you choose to use, it is a proven fact that the attention deficit challenge can be addressed by using small learning chunks that are deployed at regular intervals. Spaced learning improves learner engagement, retention of learning, and the course completion rate.
Gamification & Digital Badges
Here are some stats on gamification in workplace learning:
- 72% of employees claim gamification inspires them to work harder.
- 95% of employees enjoy using gaming-inspired elements in their work.
- Gamification participants score 14% higher skill-based assessments.
The Gartner Gamification 2020 Report which was released in 2012 made several interesting predictions. Two important predictions in the report were the use of gamification for personal development and improving employee engagement and performance. In the last few years with the growth of social networks in tandem, leading organizations have used gamification to enhance employee learning. Some examples:
- Salesforce uses a gamified learning platform called Trailhead. This allows Salesforce administrators and developers can learn Salesforce while earning points, achieving badges, and having fun.
- IBM has pioneered the use of gamification in its employee training and business development and customer meets.
- Infosys has come up with a gamification platform that they can deploy for their employees, customers, and partners to train them. The Infosys Enterprise Gamification Platform (iEGP) aids in the rapid implementation of gamification for any enterprise scenario.
Digital badges are a great way to improve learner engagement and reward learners for completing programs. Microsoft has been one of the early adopters of the concept of digital badges and has actively created an internal learning program for its employees across different departments. This article by Peter Janzow cites how Microsoft’s sales force is getting trained and being rewarded with digital badges and the positive impact that it is having in the organization. Read our blog post for a detailed overview of how digital badges are driving a positive transformation in workplace learning.
Scenario-Based Learning (SBL) is defined as a medium of teaching a skill using virtual, interactive, problem-based contexts. By creating a scenario-based learning program that simulates real-world learning scenarios, the learner is offered a chance to apply their learning. An eLearning program that uses scenarios witnesses a higher degree of learner engagement and sees more course completions than a regular eLearning program. We have created an eBook that details the benefits of scenario-based learning and how L&D teams can use it to create compelling workplace learning solutions.
We all love stories, right? Stories that take us to new worlds and introduce us to fascinating characters and allow us to depart from the monotony of daily tasks. Storytelling can be used to great effect in workplace learning solutions. It can be new hire training or employee onboarding programs, product training programs, or soft skills and language training. A good story with a reliable narrator can elevate the learning experience to a great deal. The story should gel into the learning program and meet the learning objectives defined by the program. When the narrative builds suspense, includes interactivity, and keeps the learner engaged it truly serves its purpose. This article from the Training Industry website offers more insights on the use of storytelling in eLearning.
Microlearning and Videos
Microlearning, bite-sized learning, snackable learning, learning nuggets; these are all different terms used to denote small learning capsules that can be deployed with ease. There’s more than enough content floating around the internet about the attention deficit among learners, millennials having an attention span that’s less than that of a goldfish and other intriguing stats. The crux of the matter is that holding a learner’s attention span remains one of the key challenges for L&D teams. Do have a look at this infographic that we created on the benefits of bite-sized learning.
Here’s why you should invest in video-based learning:
- Videos are an interesting way to boost learner engagement.
- Videos allow learners to visualize concepts with ease.
- Videos aid in storytelling and building a strong narrative.
- Videos can be designed as per budget with humans or animated characters.
- Videos have a great recall value and ensure that the learner remembers at least a bit of the core topic.
- Videos can be used for product training and just-in-time learning.
The battle to create interesting and engaging eLearning is one that learning experience designers wage every day. Be it content from the instructional designers, an ideal template and user experience from the developer, or visuals and animation from the graphic designer; every element plays an important role. As organizations toy with different tools like mobile learning apps and LXPs to deliver an enhanced and immersive learning experience; it becomes important to create learning content that has a high recall value. Do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to collaborate on eLearning that holds learner interest and delivers value to your organization.