Keeping learners engaged when delivering digital learning experiences has always been challenging, but with the recent global situation causing a surge in online learning, it has now become a necessity. In this post, we will give you some guidance and helpful tips on how to make your online content delivery more engaging – whoever your audience may be.
Let Them Choose
The first step to making your content more engaging can actually take place during the development phase. Whether you’re creating new content from scratch or adapting existing learning materials for online delivery (as talked about in our Content Digitisation article), a key technique for making your course more engaging is offering learners a choice of what to study. Of course, sometimes this is not possible – some later aspects of the course may require prerequisite knowledge from earlier activities or modules, but where possible it’s a good idea to allow learners to choose the order and pace of their learning. This will give them a sense of empowerment and let them feel involved in the learning process; you’re virtually guaranteed to start at a high engagement level if students are free to choose the topics that interest them most when first starting the course.
Use a Diverse Mix of Content
Another engagement-boosting technique that can take place during the course design phase is to ensure you use a wide variety of learning activities and content. As mentioned in our Content Digitisation article, one of the main benefits of online learning delivery is that you’re not limited to the formats of traditional print media – you are free to include videos, dynamic presentations, embed content from other sources, even interactive content like quizzes, etc.
Not only will this variety help to maintain engagement levels, but it will also allow you to take advantage of differentiated instruction – the idea that different learners absorb information in different ways. Some learners may learn best from blocks of text, others may find it easier when a concept is presented as a video; with online learning, you are free to choose the format that best suits your content and audience.
Make it Social
Another effective way to increase engagement is to make the learning experience social and foster a sense of community. Fortunately, there is no shortage of tools to help with this, whether you want to use a dedicated platform such as our own Communities, a social media platform with group functionality such as Facebook, or even a messaging service like Slack or Discord. Giving your learners a place to not only discuss course content but also to socialise while learning will make the experience more interactive, and therefore more engaging. In addition to boosting engagement, this will also encourage learners to problem-solve together (and depending on their age, let them hash out a difficult concept before having to ask for help!).
Do it Live
As we’ve talked about in a previous article, webinars can be an effective way to deliver online learning content. You can also use video delivery on a smaller scale to lead learners through a topic in a more traditional classroom sense. This allows learners to engage with you, the content, and each other in real-time – they can get (and give) instant feedback and influence the direction of the lesson. Also, don’t forget to show your face! A disembodied voice isn’t half as engaging as letting your learners see you in action.
Utilise Breakout Rooms
Breakout rooms are an excellent way to boost engagement, they offer a way to break up long sections of content delivery with interactive elements. They also give you a way to check your learners’ understanding of the content and an opportunity to interact with each room on a smaller scale to check how everyone is doing. In addition, they provide opportunities for your students to interact with each other and problem solve as a group.
Bonus tip: if you’re using a platform that supports grouping, consider creating persistent groups for your learners or opening the video meeting early before every session – give people a space for casual conversation before a meeting.
Invite Learners to Contribute
Another great way to increase engagement is to invite your learners to contribute their content to the lesson. This can go hand-in-hand with the breakout rooms mentioned above, give your students a small group task, then go to each group to check their progress and answer any questions they may have about the content; after their task is complete each group can present their work to the class as a whole and feedback to each other about their experiences completing the task.
Encourage Peer Evaluation
Getting your learners to collaborate and learn from each other is another great way to boost engagement, enabling learners to review each other’s work reinforces their understanding of what they are doing and encourages a culture of sharing which can be valuable in spreading best-practice.
Ask for Feedback
Asking your learners for feedback about the course content and teaching style is a great way to maintain engagement; it gives them a sense of ownership and lets them know you’re interested in their experience of the course and have a desire to improve. Depending on the length of your course, it’s usually a good idea to take anonymous feedback both at the midway point and at the conclusion of the course. This will allow you to act on any critical feedback promptly, and address any problems learners may have during the remainder of the course.
We hope you find these suggestions useful, and you now feel confident in your ability to create an engaging online learning experience! If you have any questions about creating engaging content for online delivery, please feel free to get in touch with us about our content services.
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