The secret to keeping employees' attention is showing them “what’s in it for me?”
These days, there’s a lot of competition involved in keeping employees engaged in an online course. Outside factors, from personal and professional social media accounts to the intensity of their jobs, can keep them from being motivated to continue on. With all the distractions that life can bring, what can you do as an instructional designer to ensure your online courses make your learners come back to your training week after week? Here are three ways you can keep workplace learners coming back for more!
What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)?
You may have heard someone in your trainings say, “this is great information, but what’s in it for me?” We call this WIIFM; it’s one of the keys to keeping learners motivated. If you can’t tell your learners why they need to know what you’re teaching them, it won’t matter how you deliver your course content or what technology will be used. Employees need to know why they need to be in the training and how they can use what they’re learning in their everyday lives.
And keep it practical with real world examples. This is a very basic component of adult learning theory, also called andragogy, developed by Malcolm Shepherd Knowles. One of Knowles’ 4 Principles of Andragogy, created in 1984, states that adults are going to be most interested in learning about things that could have an immediate impact and relevance to their jobs or personal lives. So, before you do anything else, make sure you communicate to the learner why your training matters. And this can happen throughout the training, too! A friendly reminder of why we are doing what we are doing helps focus the training.
Tools for Applying WIIFM
How are you going to keep reminding participants of their WIIFM? One way, mentioned previously, is to make the learning practical. Provide real-world scenarios and problems to anchor learning activities. And encourage your instructors to provide real stories from the work they’ve done to make sure employees can see the practical nature of what they’re learning and how it could be applied to their own situations. You can use models to help scaffold learning, such as using the CCAF Model (which stands for Context, Challenge, Activity, and Feedback). This model encourages learners to “learn by doing,” which is another key component of adult learning theory.
I know from my experience, the learners taking our trainings want to know how they’re doing. So, providing feedback to learners in the workplace is really important. Make sure to include progress indicators, badges or a form of awards system for accomplishing tasks, or qualitative/quantitative feedback on assignments. This is where having involved instructors will also play a critical role in keeping your learners motivated to continue the training they’re taking.
Finally, you want to make sure you have instructors that are engaged in the online learning environment. Make sure that, if possible, you have instructors experienced in delivering online training. Or, create a training program for instructors so that they know what goes into making sure an online training is successful and can help learners stay motivated. Make sure your instructors regularly check in with online participants. As part of our blended training model, we have forums, worksheets, and webinars that learners participate in and attend weekly. This interaction online between learners and instructors is critical because it helps cement the learning experience.
Make sure your instructors bring their real-world experience to the content and give them the freedom to share those stories with learners in the workplace. They should be able to see the instructor’s presence online. Instructors should provide regular feedback to employees, whether it’s in forums or on worksheets. And instructors should get them to think deeply about the content by asking deeper questions in responses to learner’s postings online. And, the instructor should encourage learners to talk to each other and share their ideas and experiences with one another.
If you use the strategies mentioned in this post, you can begin to build a platform for your training so that your learners stay motivated and engaged in your courses. I wish you success in making sure your learners know what’s in it for them when taking your training.