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Jon Kennard


Freelance writer

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Generate: How do I engage my learners more effectively in online learning?


Last week, Learning Technologies took over much of the Kensington Olympia events complex for its eponymous two-day conference and expo, a permanent fixture in most L&D professionals' calendars, and one of the biggest events of its kind in Europe. Normally we would have a stand in the exhibition hall with an iPad or two, but this year we thought we'd try something different. Teaming up with leading industry benchmarkers Towards Maturity we created Generate, a community-led initiative that aimed to solve a few L&D's problems. And it went pretty well!

Here was the process:

  • Ask our community the L&D questions they want answers to via a survey promoted through blog posts and social media
  • Pick the eight most popular 
  • Pin them to our crowdsourcing wall at stand 418 in the Learning and Skills expo area
  • Liberally distribute post-its and marker pens 
  • Let the delegates provide the answers

And beneath are the answers to question 1: How do I engage my learners more effectively in online learning? 

Not all the answers are practical, and I've tried to group them together thematically.

  • Involve learner in design (not just pilot)
  • Listen to learner feedback 
  • Build learning around learner
  • Peer learning/community learning
  • Get learners to lead the teachers
  • Involve learners in the development of the solutions from the start
  • Set up a YouTube channel
  • Get mobile
  • Answer the question ‘what’s in it for me?’
  • Look at Amazon review as a model
  • Make online model interactive via @ericzemaitaitis
  • Ask questions but not just assessment-type questions via @ericzemaitaitis
  • Embed video and audio too via @ericzemaitaitis
  • Make it non-linear
  • Mix F2F and online
  • Integrate into employee workflow (i.e. don’t make it an event)
  • Think about what learners need to do not just what they need to know
  • Look outside L&D and inspire learner feedback
  • Sell the benefits to your unique population
  • Provide face-to-face support post-course
  • Use relatable rather than abstract examples
  • Make it real and believable e.g. use drama and authentic voices
  • Keep content real and solve practical problems
  • Enable honest feedback about content AND context
  • Make it completely customisable
  • Fun and active learning
  • Reduce unnecessary animations
  • Make people enjoy it so don’t call it learning
  • Give them information at point of need
  • Find a way to do it and share successes
  • Make it engaging and relevant
  • As short as possible but as long as necessary
  • Communicate with the learning population to advertise it
  • Make it immediately relevant
  • By giving them a reason to log on and make the experience a fun one
  • Make it fun!
  • Keep it short
  • Short and sweet
  • Use a blend!
  • Carrot and stick!

Keep your eyes peeled for more posts to come.

A big thanks to Laura Overton and everyone at Towards Maturity without whom this wouldn't have been nearly as successful as it turned out.

Author Profile Picture
Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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