Four Basic Steps to Increase Learner Engagement

What can you do?

The only way to keep the learner engaged is to know who they are and what their motivations are.

So, how do you increase the learner’s motivation and increase engagement?

Try to answer these questions:

  • Why is the training relevant to the learner? Establish relevance and value.
  • Is it worth their time? Valuable information is key. Not information.
  • How is the learner engaged? How do they participate in the training?
  • How can they apply what they learn to what they do? Promote transfer to the job.

The learner is where the results are. If they learn, you and the organization get the results you want.

Why is the training relevant to the learner?

If you want the learner to engage, they need to see why they should.

Do not assume that they understand the value they can get out your course. You should explicitly tell them how they may be able to use the information in your course and why they should care.

For example:

  • You coworker Tasha is taking an eLearning. The eLearning is about workflow improvement and efficiency.
  • Tasha does not quite get why she’s been assigned to this course so, she’s pretty frustrated and doesn’t see why she needs to take the training.
  • To help with this, you explain in the course overview that you will be using Microsoft excel as project management tool to improve project workflow. Tasha has been trying to improve her excel skills so now she’s interested.
  • When you provide the objectives to Tasha, she realizes that she will learn how to make a Gantt chart in excel and is now motivated to take the course so she can learn how.

Is it worth their time?

If the learner doesn’t see the value, the course is a waste of their time. Period.

After establishing relevance with the learner by presenting what they may get from the course they should be able to see the value in your course but not always.

  • You may need to give examples of how they, specifically, can use the information in the course if possible.
  • You may need to provide additional resources to meet their needs.

Different things work for your learners but if you collect good learner information prior to the course you should be able to prepare for these challenges.

You should also pay attention to the time of your course:

  • You should also take care not to add time to the course by cramming in information that is nice to have but not necessary.
  • Don’t make it too short by cutting out necessary information that is need to have in preference of brevity.

Always remember that the duration of the course should be specific to the project and requirements.

Don’t make content to fit time, make time to fit your content.

How Is The Learner Engaged?

How is the learner interacting with the training and the material?

With adults, you usually have more flexibility in how you present the content:

  • Their natural life experience opens the door to more discussion.
  • You can also present challenges to their ideas to encourage further exploration of a topic.

If learners aren’t enjoying a training, you can change on the spot in an ILT or you can redo certain parts in an eLearning.

It is always best to try and gather as much feedback as you can about how the learner engages in a training.

Some methods are:

  • Collecting data,
  • Sending follow up surveys,
  • Phone calls/emails, etc.

You have to choose the strategy that works for your project.

How can they apply what they learn to what they do?

Although you can provide examples of how your learners can apply what they learn in your training; It is hard to pinpoint the exact application for every learner.

Ultimately, you can’t cover every use case of the information they learn. However, you CAN help the learners come up with creative ways to apply what they learn.

There are different ways to do promote their creativity, some of the best ways are:

  • Group activities
  • Games
  • Asking questions

The more they think about how to apply their knowledge the easier it will be to come up with new ways to apply it.

If you have learners that are going to be applying what they learn in the same environment, then you can use simulations and scenarios too.


Make sure to follow up after a training with resources and reminders.

Ask your learners:

  • Are they applying what they learned in the training?
  • How have they have applied what they learned in the training?

You can also send them supplemental resources provide additional information on a topic discussed. Send them resources to use on the job (job aids).

Send them email learnings with additional information.

Offer your help.

All of these things are going to add the final touch on your training. This is the one of the most crucial things to do but it is often overlooked.

Just remember, engagement continues after the training.

Do not forget to know as much as you can about your learners. The more you engage with the learners prior, during and after a training, the more they will take from the training.

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