3 Ideas to Keep Learners Engaged during Work-From-Home

As the amount of work-from-home population still increases, learning leaders are facing a challenge. Engaging learners from far away is quite a bit more cumbersome than doing it on-site, especially if you had not planned in advance. While we’ve written on practices on engaging in synchronous learning and webinars, things get different when learning gets more self-paced. Therefore, we’ll take a look at three ideas to keep learners engaged. Whereas modern learning solutions help in doing that, you can utilise all of these even if you were caught off guard by the sudden increase in remote learners.

Reward recurring activity

Once you’ve got learners onto your digital learning environment, it’s important to keep them coming back. For that, you not only need useful and fresh content, but likely a bit of incentives too. Learning research shows that learning over a period of time produces a better effect than trying to cram everything on one sitting. Furthermore, the more encounters we have with a piece of information, the better our chances of learning. That’s the law of repetition!

Therefore, it makes sense to incentivise behaviour where learners activate themselves every day, rather than once a week for instance. This can be done in numerous ways. For example, a gamification concept called ‘streaks’ fits this use perfectly. To keep their streaks active, learners may need to complete an activity on a daily basis. At certain intervals, active streak holders can be rewarded based on their streak length and performance. While some learning tools may have this kind of functionality built-in, you can do a lot on shoestring too. You could for instance use forms for simple daily check-ins. This could also incorporate other elements at the same time, e.g. pulse checks or other surveys. Alternatively, you could configure your learning analytics dashboard to show recurring users and handle the rewards manually.

‘Pace it’ to keep learners engaged

To support the recurring activity behaviour above, you should also consider setting up the content in a different way to keep learners engaged. Conventionally, we like to think that open learning experiences are the most user-friendly. They enable learners to navigate freely and access all content at once, as they need it. However, in a situation where you might be resource strapped to keep producing new content, it might make sense to pace the existing experiences. Let’s call this limited progress. You’ll allow learners to only progress to a point during one setting. After completing everything in the current block, they’ll have to wait for the next experience to be unlocked.

Additionally, this helps you as a learning leader to manage your content needs better. It can also allow you some really agile content creation practices. More importantly though, it creates exclusivity for the learners. They’ll learn that they need to come back to get the learning they want to do. Coincidentally, it also helps to prevent too much screen time, which is a risk during work-from-home arrangements.

Organise into teams

Finally, another way to keep learners engaged is to organise them into teams. Teams can be arbitrary, or you could base them on existing organisational structure. The important thing is that you assign a learners a social construct to associate themselves with. This creates social presence. As a part of team, learners feel a shared responsibility to contributing to the teams goals. Therefore, it might be beneficial to even map the learning goals out as team goals. For instance, you could require all team members to complete an experience before anyone could progress further.

Teams also enable a host of friendly competition options, while providing a platform for socialising and support. You could pit teams against each other on some virtual learning challenges, and then reward accordingly. You could also assign unique tasks based on team composition. Having mixed teams, for instance, could provide for an opportune time for some problem-based learning.

Final word

As more and more people work from home for extended periods of time, learning engagement becomes very important. A good engagement strategy should be based on recurring activity, evidence-based learning practices and social presence. Modern learning tools and platforms help in managing a lot of it, but there’s a lot that agile learning leaders can do while working within their resource constraints. If you’d like to explore further ideas in this space, let us know. We are happy to share more ideas.

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