02 December 2018

4 Ways to Increase Learner Participation in Your Organization

Learner Engagement
increase learner participation


Ximena Maza

The phrase “time is money”, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, has never been truer in the modern-day workplace. Juggling busy work schedules and maintaining a healthy work-life balance leaves little time for “non-core” activities. So how can Learning & Development departments convince today’s busy employees that time spent learning is time well spent? Making training more social, accessible, and relevant helps increase learner participation and cultivates a more positive attitude towards corporate learning and the impact it can have on employee performance.

Let’s examine how to increase learner participation in your organization and ensure that corporate learning objectives are achieved.

1.  Optimize learning time

Virtual learning saves time by removing the need to attend face-to-face sessions at a fixed time and place. However, allocating time to activities that can easily be rescheduled is a challenge for the modern learner. When it comes to online learning, postponing the training to a later date is often too tempting time-pressed learners.

Demystifying the Modern Learner
How technology and new learning preferences are shaping modern-day learning
Demystifying the Modern Learner
How technology and new learning preferences are shaping modern-day learning

Through mobile learning, learners are given the ability and flexibility to incorporate bite-sized chunks of personalized study into their daily routines. This microlearning approach helps to ensure that the learning is shaped around them, it meets their specific needs and objectives, and it is enjoyable.

It also changes the focus of the learning by moving away from memorizing information and instead, blending learning into the employee’s daily routine, allowing them to absorb information more effectively.

2.  Make learning part of the job

Though training initiatives are vital to attract and retain talent, the reality is that they can become a burden to employees if they are unclear on why the training is relevant to their job.

For this reason, managers should treat learning as part of each employee’s (and their own) responsibilities and annual objectives. Clear learning goals should be set and results and outcomes shared transparently.

A recent Harvard Business Review article explained that in order to increase learner participation learning should be set as an expectation and not as an optional incentive.

Knowing why this learning is important, what issues it will help solve, and how it will help them to grow in the organization are essential to engage the modern learner.

Not only that – according to Malcolm Knowles’s, renowned American educator, Adult Learning Theory Principles, “adult learners need to be able to tie the subject matter to real-world benefits and applications”.

3.  Make it a team effort

Social learning – in other words learning with and from others can have a huge impact on employee engagement.

Using gamification technology to add an interactive element to corporate learning not only increases learner participation but also enables learners to retain and apply that particular grammatical structure or new skill on a whole new level.

If learning becomes a team effort, it makes it an engaging experience that is meaningful, empowering and enriching.

Demystifying the Modern Learner
How technology and new learning preferences are shaping modern-day learning
Demystifying the Modern Learner
How technology and new learning preferences are shaping modern-day learning

To take it even further, through technology, learners can work toward achieving team learning goals. An internal e-learning community would give visibility to team learning challenges increasing learner participation.

Pair this with a clear and attainable reward or incentive program and you will see a significant increase in learner participation.

4.  Lead by example

Learning should not be a burden but recognized as an opportunity for establishing common values. Managers must embark on the learning journey with their employees and create an environment focused on knowledge and skills acquisition. Creating a learning culture will maximize the potential of your team and increase their productivity.

An essential part of every learning process is sharing – sharing experiences and sharing feedback.

All managers have had moments in their career where they have had to actively develop their skillset. Sharing insights on personal experiences will help learners to see the bigger picture and recognize the role that training can play in helping them to achieve their personal objectives. This will invariably increase learner participation as employees recognize the value of personalized training.

Learning in the Flow of Work

The question of how to increase learner participation is being discussed by L&D professionals around the globe. Those companies that will lead the way in this area must focus on flexibility, bite-sized content and creating meaningful learning experiences by harnessing digital technology. Furthermore, managers must lead the way and show their employees the advantages of embedding learning into their daily tasks. Josh Bersin’s has coined the phrase Learning in the Flow of Work, where employees learn something, apply it, and then go back to work. Is this the future of modern corporate learning?

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