Strategies for Getting People Engaged with eLearningAbout a year ago Allison Rossett, a professor of educational technology at San Diego State University, and Antonia Chan, an instructional designer at Qualcomm Inc., wrote a white paper (pdf) addressing the question of how to get employees to participate actively in eLearning both as learners and as contributors.
In their paper, Rossett and Chan offer a dozen strategies "to make online experiences compelling and increase the odds that employees and students will give [eLearning] approaches a chance."
As you read through the strategies, you will see that most are more or less obvious. As with many lists of best practices, the point is not that you would never think of these items on your own. Rather, this particular set has been selected from a larger pool of possibilities to constitute a checklist of essentials.
- The eLearning must be perceived as useful by participants.
- If value is not obvious, a vivid case must be made. "Use testimonials. Point to data from the needs assessment. Show a problem or case that reminds participants about why they should care."
- The program must provide opportunities for success, not failure or uncertainty.
- Make it real. "Make certain that the programs match the audience in topic and level."
- Because the new deLearning relies on involvement and generosity [in interacting with other participants and in contributing content], reveal what that participation might look like. "Create examples that demonstrate a day or a week in the life of someone who is fully onboard." Include information on who is available to help learners.
- Make it active and thought-provoking. For example, well-designed simulations foster high levels of engagement.
- Make it human. "Showcase people, emotions, and successes. ... Provide places where suppliers and buyers can go to share and review experiences. ... Include lessons learned in the words of those who have learned them."
- Guide and track participants. "A guidance system structures and constrains choices. It helps people know their options, see where they are now, judge how they have fared, and figure out what to do next."
- Situate eLearning within a blend. I.e., combine eLearning with additional resources, such as performance support, blogs and forums, communities of practice, online assessment, lunch chats with peers, perhaps some classroom time, and a tracking system. Provide alerts so users know about "new updates, features, and key content."
- Make relationships, collaboration, and teaming a part of the effort. Tools like blogs, wikis, discussion forums, and collaborative workspaces help.
- Make the program dramatic, compelling, valued, and authentic.
- Measure and continuously improve.