E-Learning Motivation Made Easy: How To Keep Learners Engaged

E-Learning Motivation Made Easy: How To Keep Learners Engaged

We think E-Learning is great. It’s cost-effective, time-efficient and ideal for delivering standardised training to huge groups of learners spanning even greater geographical areas. However, it does not come without its challenges. One of the key issues with E-Learning lies in its struggle to retain, engage and motivate learners. Today, we’ll tackle the topic of motivation, giving you sound advice and simple ideas to help you excite and motivate learners.

At some point in our education, we’ve all sat in a classroom or lecture hall, tuned out the voice of our teacher and let our thoughts drift off to other things. Many traditional classroom trainers find it difficult to recognise when students are there in person but not in mind. Often it is not until assessments are introduced that they discover whether learning has occurred or whether all of the knowledge they have so painstakingly put together and delivered has went in one ear and out the other.

With online learning, however, the difference is often much clearer. Learners who are not engaged or enthusiastic can be recognised easily because they simply close their browser and fail to complete their learning. A key worry faced by many E-Learning practitioners is whether or not E-Learners will be motivated enough to complete their programmes and have a greater understanding at the end.

Luckily for us, we are not the first people to face the challenge of E-Learner motivation. Today we’ll explore some tried and tested techniques for learner motivation and give you some advice to help you avoid common pitfalls. The ARCS model of Motivational Design by John Keller is a useful starting point for the basics of motivational theory in learning and can be applied to E-Learning. The model outlines four ways of motivating learners; Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction. We’ll cover each element in more detail now:

Attention: In order to motivate learners, it is important firstly to gain their attention. Keller proposes two main ideas for achieving this; through perceptual arousal or inquiry arousal. In other words, attracting learners’ attention by doing something out of the ordinary or else by appealing to their inquisitive nature.

Relevance: If learners are to deem content worthy of their attention and the application of their motivation, then the learning must be grounded in real life applicability. This can be achieved by giving examples of the learning’s relevance or even by profiling individuals who have already used the learning for their own betterment.

Confidence: By instilling a sense of achievability and by ensuring learners are aware that the work they put into learning will reap merit, it will give them reason to fully apply themselves. It’s important to map out the learning journey they are about to set out on, give guidance on how much work will be involved and directly link this to potential success.

Satisfaction: Each of us needs to feel like the efforts we are making are worthwhile if we are to continue to replicate them. If you are able to develop a meaningful rewards system for your learners, it will reinforce the relevance of their learning and recognise that their hard work has paid off, thus creating motivation for further learning.

Keller’s theory is easy to understand and for many L&D practitioners components of it may seem fairly obvious. However, often in practice many people deviate from these principles in favour of more superficial or gimmick-filled learning solutions. It is important both when planning your next E-Learning programme and also when assessing its success to consider whether it meets Keller’s four principles of motivation.

How can you avoid gimmicks and inspire real motivation?

In pursuit of the latest trend, it can be easy to get carried away and forget about the simple and effective ways of motivating learners. By adopting a range of intrinsic and extrinsic motivational techniques, you can expect to see more leaners completing your courses and applying the learning within your organisation. We’ve identified three areas where you should be particularly cautious:

1. Gamification

Like many others in the industry, we’re excited about the rise of gamification in E-Learning. In our blog about the gamification of E-Learning in 2015, we predicted that it is to become more practical, more integrated, more fun and more common. Because of the hype created around gamification, however, many have raced to embrace it without fully understanding how to utilise it in a learning context. When we adopt superficial games with low relevance to learning content, we distract from learning instead of encouraging it. Our advice is to carefully consider how you can use game mechanics and gaming narratives to motivate your learners.

 

2. Badges and Reward Systems

A potentially useful way of motivating learners is through awarding badges or by developing a rewards system. It can serve as a form of intrinsic motivation by appealing to the learner’s sense of achievement and is useful as a type of extrinsic motivation because it can give the learner status amongst their peers or qualify them for a reward or promotion. The counterfeit cousin of a good reward system is one which recognises trivial achievements with meaningless rewards. In order to use badges and reward systems to truly motivate learners, it is essential that the achievements are tangible and worthy of recognition and that the rewards are meaningful and roughly equivalent to the amount of work the learner has put in.

 

3. Graphics

The rapid advances within graphic design and constantly growing industry of web-design means that people are increasingly used to highly-stylised web-content with high-quality images and beautifully presented content. This is exciting because it means that we can produce digital learning that is easy on the eye and attention-grabbing. However, in order to maintain learners’ engagement and motivation, ensure that the instructional designer holds the reins in decisions about layout and that content design is not decided by graphic designers. The work of graphic designers should complement the aims of the instructional designer. For more advice on using graphics in E-Learning, download our recent infographic, The Six Golden Rules for Using Graphics in E-Learning.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

Gamification of E-Learning in 2015

Image of a trophy and gamification icons, accompanied by the name of the blog article.

The use of game mechanics to increase learners’ motivation is not a new concept, but this year gamification is set to come of age, moving away from being viewed as a gimmick to becoming a real contender as one of the key techniques used to motivate and engage learners. We can all expect to see gamification become more practical, more integrated, more fun and more common so we want to share why it’s so exciting!

In our predictions of the top digital learning trends for 2015, we noted an influx in the use of gamification in E-Learning and we were far from the only ones. A report by Ambient Insight placed the annual global growth rate for game-based learning at 8.3% and predicted that revenues would amount to a massive $2.3 billion by 2017.

Why is gamification so effective?

Keller’s Model of Motivational Design outlines four strategies for motivating learners:

  1. Attention
  2. Relevance
  3. Confidence
  4. Satisfaction

Gamification is brilliant because it incorporates all four of these tactics to draw in and engross learners. The use of gaming narratives, mechanics and graphics will draw the attention of learners whilst the application of knowledge will reinforce the relevance of learning materials. Learners will have their confidence boosted by the progress they witness during their learning adventures and E-Learning which incorporates rewards and recognition will create a great sense of learner satisfaction.

In the digital age, learners have various forms of information and entertainment competing for their attention. The challenge of the educator is to deliver their information in the most relevant and gripping way.

What will be different in 2015?

Gamification will be:

  • More practical – digital learning creators have often confused gamification with the introduction of badges and reward systems. These superficial styles of gamifying E-Learning can complement more sophisticated game mechanics but most learners are not placated by trivial rewards. Instead, in 2015, we predict the employment of gamification techniques that really motivate learners. Expect to see more simulation, animations and narrative based games.

 

  • More integrated – it isn’t necessary to create a whole new virtual world to gamify your E-Learning and motivate learners. The most successful gamification efforts are those that create interactivity for learners in simple and effective ways. If you want to adopt gamification without having to invest huge amounts of time and resources, consider using puzzles, scenarios and short, fun games regularly throughout your E-Learning.

 

  • More fun – the exciting emergence of new technologies and innovations within the gaming industry is spilling over into the gamification of E-Learning. New technologies that create the potential for virtual and augmented reality mean that games have become more realistic and life like. Whilst few organisations will immediately be able to implement these technologies in 2015, the adoption of sharper graphics and high definition displays will bring games to life for learners and create more fun!

 

  • More common – as we noted before, gamification is growing. Mike Liebhold,  senior researcher and distinguished fellow at The Institute for the Future captures the driving force behind this growth perfectly when he says, “The development of ‘serious games’ applied productively to a wide scope of human activities will accelerate simply because playing is more fun than working.”

 

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

8 Ideas for Exceptional E-Learning Interactivity

An image of a man's mind with a light bulb in the middle and ideas flowing from it, accompanied by the title, "8 Ideas for Exceptional E-Learning Interactivity"

Interactivity is what differentiates dull and drab E-Learning from learning that provokes questions, draws in learners and captures information in a memorable way. If you want to create E-Learning that strikes a chord with learners and transforms learning from being a chore into something enjoyable, we’ve gathered eight ideas for exceptional E-Learning interactivity:

1.    Gamify your learning content

The gamification of learning is a trend that is on the rise. By introducing game mechanics to your E-Learning content, you can increase learner engagement and motivation.

2.    Tell a story

Storytelling has been a learning style long before the introduction of technology. By sharing either illustrative or real life stories with learners, it’s possible to relate your E-Learning to everyday life as well as entertain learners. You can create and share your own digital story for free using our own storytelling tool storee.

3.    Pose questions that require more than yes or no answers

Although they make great tools for assessing knowledge and understanding, it can be tempting for learners to race through multiple choice questionnaires. By incorporating open ended questions learners will receive the opportunity to consider what they have learnt and put it into their own words.

4.    Create discussion spaces for learners to interact

The emergence and widespread adoption of social media means that people are generally more willing to connect and search for meaning using online communities. Social learning offers learners the opportunity to extend learning outside the walls of the classroom and your E-Learning module.

5.    Include beautiful multimedia

Modern, well designed pictures, videos, interactive charts and quizzes will suggest to learners that the content you’re teaching them is up-to-date and topical.

6.    Translate your E-Learning into real world exercises

To successfully motivate learners, it’s vital to link the new information you’re providing them with to their day-to-day life. Real world exercises will prompt learners to consider the legitimacy and relevancy of your E-Learning.

7.    Build problem based scenarios as part of your assessments

Problem based scenarios present a perfect opportunity to encourage learners to grapple with difficult issues and to raise questions about the application of their new knowledge.

8.    Personalise modules by including learners’ names

Small gestures can go a long way. By using learners’ names and other personalised information you can put learners at ease and make them feel like the content was created uniquely for them.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.

Game on? The use of gamification in e-learning.

by Sarah Sweeney, Marketing Assistant at Aurion Learning.

SQUARE imageMany HR and L&D professionals face the problem of ensuring that their training and learning programmes maintain learner engagement and motivation. Gamification has been regularly recognised as an opportunity to help solve this problem.

In this post, we consider whether gamification can enhance the learning experience. Before we consider if it is game on for gamification in learning, it is necessary to look at what gamification essentially is.

What is Gamification?

Games and game like components have been invading the learning realm for quite some time now. Although its definition differs, for the most part, gamification in learning is the use of game mechanics to ‘gamify’ content to engage and entice users by encouraging and rewarding use.

Although Nick Pelling first coined the term “gamification” in 2002, it has actually been around for some time – 40 years in fact, with many organisations already using features in their work from video games.

Indeed, it can be said that loyalty programs, target-based bonuses and employee-of-the-month schemes are all examples of how gamification as an incentive to growth has been around for a long time too.

Examples of gamification in learning include:

  • Training: technology giants, Microsoft use gamification to train users of Microsoft Office on how to use the new ribbon interface effectively.
  • Education: New York based school – Quest to Learn, advocates game-based learning to make education more engaging and relevant to children.
  • Employee productivity: Management tool Arcaris uses gamification to improve productivity in call centres.

Now that we know what gamification is and where it is being used in learning, it is necessary to see whether it actually works.

Does Gamification in learning work?

The gamification of e-learning unquestionably presents unique possibilities for learning technologists as they explore additional ways to educate and importantly engage learners.

It is widely recognised that adding interactive activities in e-learning are no longer optional extras, but essential to effective learning. However, it is important that the addition of game like elements into the e-learning programme are only applied in the context of the programme that allow the learner the opportunity to apply their retained knowledge to live situations, rather than distract and dazzle learners with wizardry from the overall learning goal.

Frequently, my social media feeds are inundated with social games, although irritating at times, there is no escaping the surge in popularity of online gaming and social media. The site, DevHub, reported an eightfold increase in the number of users completing their sites after adding gamification elements to the process. If there was any indication that the gamification was a fad, according to research from M2 it’s here not only stay, but increase in its use.

The global market for gamification apps and services will grow to $2.8 billion by 2016.”

The enthusiasm for gamification has however met with some criticism. Game designers Radoff and Robertson have criticised gamification for excluding aspects like storytelling, an important element of learning. Whilst university researcher Deterding, has argued that current approaches to gamification create an artificial sense of achievement.

What does the successful application of gamification in e-learning look like?

  1. Gamification isn’t about games, but the learners.
  2. It isn’t about knowledge but behaviour.
  3. It extracts the motivational techniques out of games and uses them for life-applicable learning.
  4. It allows quick feedback of progress and communications of goals that need to be accomplished.

Gamification is made appealing for e-learning because of our human tendencies.  On the whole, we generally enjoy actively participating engaging and competing with others. Gamification allows learners to connect and learn together with playful applications and incentives, particularly when there are engaging game design elements used.

Today’s learners are however no longer placated with trivial reward systems but rather sophisticated experiences that hold real value. Organisations embracing the gamification in learning can stand to see learners more engaged and retain more information, but only if it is applied aptly to the e-learning programme, achieving the overall core learning objectives.

Please let us know your comments or share with others who you think may benefit from this. Follow us on twitter @aurionlearning for our latest blog articles and updates.