Creating curious learners

Harri Savage shares her three top tips to successful learner engagement

The goal of any learning professional is surely to foster a culture of curiosity amongst learners. We want them to grow beyond the mandatory compliance training they have to complete, and hone their skills by embracing the other learning resources we have to offer.

Below I’ll explain three key steps to help you increase engagement with learning resources, both in the classroom and online. But first you need to gather a some key pieces of information:

What does success look like? Ask your stakeholders what metrics they’re interested in. Do they really just want an increase in hours spent training, or number of courses attended? Or do they want something more far reaching like better job performance, improved employee engagement results or increased employee and volunteer retention? Once you know this, you know what success will look like and can better focus your efforts.

What’s your baseline? In order to track any changes and see the positive impact you’re making, you need to know your starting point. You might need to identify some data allies for this bit. For example, if your aim is increasing traffic to your learning management system (LMS) you need to know how many unique users access it right now. Or if you’re increasing performance in a particular area, such as bid writing for example, you need to know what percentage of bids result in success at the moment.

Once you have your baseline measures and know what success will look like, then you can follow the three key steps below.

Step 1 Communicate
It might sound obvious, but you need to let your learners know what content is available to them. Those of us who spend most of our waking hours working on an LMS probably know the catalogue of content inside out. Ask me about courses to improve bid writing skills and I can direct you to a specific course to help with correct document formatting, a business writing module to help with structure, a curated curriculum of bid writing top tips articles and resources and I can probably also pair you up with someone else who has completed similar training, so you can learn from each other’s experiences. But can your learners do that by themselves? 

A good starting point for communicating your offer is to create a downloadable PDF catalogue, to showcase your courses and resources. Where possible, link these to roles that people will undertake, or tasks they will complete, such as service delivery or bid writing. If your catalogue is too big to tackle, pick your top three ‘must have’ courses and resources per role. The PDF can be emailed to your teams, hosted on the intranet or even printed out as a desk drop or ‘what’s next?’ handout at the end of classroom courses and/or team meetings. Make sure your search function in your LMS works well for all the others resources that you have. 

Step 2 Create a campaign
Now it’s time to start thinking like a marketing master. The most successful brands and products present themselves to us in a number of different ways over the course of the year to ensure we remember them. Take Coca-Cola for example. It takes out adverts on platforms that we are likely to view several times a day, such as TV and social media. They also sponsor events and festivals – I’m sure you’ll have seen the iconic ‘holidays are coming’ advert that lights up our homes at Christmas each year.

Think like Coca-Cola.

What platforms do you have available to you to advertise on? Can you use the intranet, your LMS home page, an email campaign or internal social networks such as Yammer? The key with a campaign is to post regularly and consistently, so make it your mission to post something about the content every Monday at 10am for example. Maybe it’s your course of the week, something new or a spotlight on a particular skill.

Next, find out what organisational events or campaigns are already happening and see if you can feed into those. Most organisations have a wellbeing initiative these days, and most content libraries include a couple of modules on work life balance, mental health awareness and relaxation. Find out who is running wellbeing events or initiatives, for examples, and work with them to market what you both are offering.

Finally, are there any external events that you can leverage? For example, Learning at Work Week starts today (Monday 18th May) and takes place every May. Create and curate content along themes and any learners who are already interested in these issues will naturally be drawn to it.

Step 3 Celebrate success 
As soon as you start to see an increase in your metrics, start shouting about it.

Tell your stakeholders so they can see the progress that your efforts are producing. This will build your credibility with them and improve relationships for future projects.

Tell your learners. Use your campaign to include a few quotes from learners who’ve benefited from the courses they’ve completed, or a note about the most popular course this month. People are more likely to engage with the content if they know other people are already doing it and reaping the benefits.

Follow these three steps and you’ll improve engagement with your LMS and increase the number of learners taking advantage of the opportunities available to them. Ultimately, the more your learners embrace the opportunities available to them, the more likely they are to commit to long term, tangible changes that will enhance their skills, improve their performance and make them happier, more engaged employees.

About Harri Savage

Harri Savage is an Online Learning Specialist at ELK Online and a former member of the Charity Learning Consortium. She focuses on helping organisations facilitate a learning culture through high quality assets, effective marketing and all-levels engagement. 


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