A former corporate trainer, who has trained hundreds of thousands of employees, shares his top tips for keeping online learners engaged.

Top 4 ways to keep online learners motivated and engaged

Teaching can be either rewarding or daunting. Sometimes it’s both, but when learners are disengaged or falling behind, it can make your job difficult and re-engaging them nearly impossible. On the other hand, when learners are tuned in and completion rates are high, training on both sides can be both rewarding and fun. “Training doesn’t have to be dry and boring, and educators don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make it engaging,” Tyson Chaplin, a former corporate trainer said.

Tyson Chaplin worked as a corporate trainer at an enterprise-level company training hundreds of thousands of employees every year. He gives his top four tips for keeping learners motivated and engaged while learning online that can help any online educator.

Use gamification, rewards, and competitions

One of the easiest and best ways to engage learners is through gamification and rewards. Gamification has been proven to increase learner engagement, knowledge retention, employee productivity, and even employee happiness. 

In fact, gamification is said to increase employee engagement by 60%, according to a report. And 90% of employees say gamified experiences make them more productive.

“Everyone loves games and incentives, including adults,” said Chaplin.

Positive competitions are another powerful motivator. While competition affects everyone differently, positive competition – where learners compete against each other without fear of retribution for not winning – has also been proven to increase learning rates. Over 50% of employees say friendly competition is a motivator for them at work.

To create a gamified experience, start small. If you break up lessons with pop quizzes, consider making them incentivized. Or for a free option, consider creating a leadership board. For other free options, consider changing the type of gamification method you use for quizzes. Things like memory games and image pairing can help engage users.

Chunk information and leverage microlearning lessons

It is estimated that the adult attention span for learning is around 20 minutes – far less than most typical lessons and courses that last 60 or more minutes. And even then, it’s been found that learners are likely to have several lapses in concentration during this 20-minute period.

To help capture your learner’s attention, try presenting material in a microlearning format and chunk information when possible. Microlearning is a teaching method that breaks down educational content into small, easily-digestible units. It delivers information in short bursts, typically ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes.

On the other hand, chunking involves grouping information into smaller units, making it more manageable to understand and retain. An example of chunking would be reading a paragraph of text, discussing it as a group, and outlining clear takeaways before moving on to another passage.

Chunking helps learners identify patterns and increase memory retention by grouping information into smaller “chunks.” Microlearning generally takes place in short, simple, and robust bursts.

Both methods are effective at helping learners understand complex information, keep them engaged, and prevent them from getting overwhelmed.

Forget learning styles, instead mix things up

Variety is a basic in teaching, yet it often gets overlooked. By incorporating a variety of teaching methods and activities, teachers can create a more stimulating and dynamic learning environment. And not only that but one that reaches all their learners.

“Many educators try to cater to different learning styles and spend a lot of wasted effort trying to meet all their learner’s needs this way,” Chaplin said. “Few realize that just by mixing up their content they’ll likely hit all the learning styles, and more importantly, make it more engaging.”

When things are interesting, people have a higher chance of retaining information, regardless of their learning style. But creating educational variety can be challenging, especially in a virtual environment.

Chaplin says to not reinvent the wheel when it comes to educational variety. Just use what you have available. Things as simple as using pen and paper to write down answers to question prompts are great at getting learners from a passive state of learning to an active one.

Leverage different media like videos and podcasts and different technologies like breakout rooms to mix things up. “Variety keeps things interesting,” said Chaplin. “And interesting is the real secret to effectively and easily teaching anything.”

Keep things relevant to your learners

Relevance is key in education. It helps to make learning more meaningful and practical. When learners see the correlation between the material they’re studying and real-life situations, they are more likely to understand its importance and how it can be useful to them in their professional and even personal lives.

And when learners feel that what they are learning is directly related to their interests, goals, and experiences, they are more likely to pay attention, actively participate, and retain information.

Making educational content relevant to all learners can be challenging. And it is especially tricky for drier topics like compliance or security training, where the topic may not have an immediate or direct impact on a learner’s life.

However, there are several ways you can make things relevant to your learners:

  • First, get to know your learners. Find out your learners' backgrounds, interests, and goals. This can be done through surveys, assessments, or conversations. By understanding your learners, you can tailor your content and activities to meet their specific needs, interests, and goals.
  • Use real-world examples. Make your content relevant by using real-world examples and case studies that relate to your learners' lives and jobs. This can help learners see the practical application of what they are learning and how it can be useful to them.
  • Personalize learning experiences. By personalizing learning experiences, you can make content and activities more relevant to each learner's unique needs and interests. This can include providing different options for learners to choose from, such as different topics or activities, or providing feedback and support that is tailored to them.

Keeping things relevant to learners can help to address individual differences and diverse learning needs. Different learners have different backgrounds and interests and by making learning relevant to them, educators can better meet their unique needs and help them achieve their full potential.

A learning management system makes learning fun and engaging without the hassle

A learning management platform can provide gamified, tailored experiences that engage learners – all without the hassle. Tovuti’s learning management system has over 40 plug-and-play content features that make administration easy and keep learners interested.

Additionally, Tovuti offers badges, certifications, and leadership boards to create a sense of competition between learners and keep them motivated. Tovuti is a fully customizable, turnkey solution that engages learners for increased completion rates and can even help reduce employee turnover.

Engage your learners with tailored, gamified experiences without the hassle


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