The reasons why adults prefer online training are easy to understand. It’s flexible, so they can study in their own time, juggling family responsibilities and office tasks. They can break their training into smaller chunks so it fits their hectic schedules. That said, the factors that make corporate e-learning a good idea can manifest as negatives. The other side of the coin can be difficult to manage, but it’s not impossible. Let’s look at some of the most common learner motivation hurdles to overcome in online training, as well as tips to get employees engaged and focused on the task at hand.
Most of us couldn’t wait to get out of high school, or college. We were itching to live our own lives, make our own decisions, and escape teen politics. We were also elated that we’d never have to do another exam. Unfortunately, this negative attitude towards education could be carried into online training. The very idea of school could prevent corporate learners from psychologically and/or intellectually investing in the course. To get past their hesitance, play up the differences between this course and their earlier academic experience. Case in point, videogame simulations and five-minute online training modules.
2. Low tech skills
The online training platform itself may prove to be a motivation hurdle. Netizens and millennials have been exposed to smart devices and the internet since childhood. They take these bits of technology for granted, as do course developers too, while other corporate learners may have tech barriers and may be too embarrassed to even admit it. In this instance, it’s better to err on the side of over-explaining. Most online training courses have online demos, either for individual units or as marketing material. Create demos that explain the practical aspects of the online training course. Show corporate learners how to navigate and where to find certain information, but also explain how to use the training device itself. Test the software on your grandparents or on the least tech-savvy person you know. Note the spots where they get stuck and include those aspects in your demo.
We may not miss much about our schooldays, but we probably miss our friends. Even at work, there’s a social aspect as we get together for various joint tasks. This aspect is exhibited in offline workshops and seminars. Corporate learners get to mingle during group assignments or after class. Online training is largely a solo endeavor with few collaborative tasks. To overcome this ‘learning loneliness’, consciously incorporate group tasks. You can create social media groups, chat rooms or synchronized group sessions. It doesn’t have to be every lesson. But once in a while, it helps if the corporate learners get a chance to work with their ‘classmates’.
4. Lack of accountability
Thinking outside the box is a corporate mantra though we often overlook one aspect. To think outside ‘the box’, there has to be a box in the first place. In the context of e-learning, there’s sometimes such an emphasis on flexibility and self-direction that the course becomes loose and structured. The ‘box’ is eliminated by the drive for learner autonomy. And when study sessions are this unplanned there’s no motivation to proceed and no consequences for slacking off or dropping out. To avoid this, include fun aspects like simulations, gamification and leaderboards. They’ll hold corporate learners’ interest so they’ll keep coming back. You can also enact training contracts to hold employees accountable for their own professional development.
5. Accessibility issues
To facilitate training flexibility, many online training courses are designed for mobile compatibility. Programme a distinct app with fewer frills that’s better suited for mobile consumption. For example, mobile infographics will be less fussy than desktop infographics. Instead of a single dense visual, it could be reformatted as a series of slides, each with fewer elements. Essentially, you can break down a single infographic into six or seven mobile phone ‘pages’. Employees are motivated to train if they can take it with them on-the-go and fit it into their schedule, instead of having to set aside time to visit the dedicated training terminal. Another benefit of mobile-friendly training courses is catering to their JIT training needs.
6. There’s nothing in it for them
You know that your online training programme will help your employees be productive in the workplace and allow you to achieve your objectives. But is your staff aware? One of the biggest learner motivation hurdles you need to hop over is addressing a crucial question. It’s an all their minds even before the log in to the platform. What’s in it for me? Stress the real world applications and advantages employees can expect. Use simulations, examples, stories, and simulations to illustrate the point and help them relate. They’ll be able to experience all the benefits that active participation can bring.
Emotional issues and high stress levels are yet another obstacle that employees must contend with. When they’re stressed, they’re more focused on resolving the issue than participating in online training. Thus, you need to create a safe and supportive eLearning environment that satisfies this basic need. You can also offer them support tools outside the online training course to reduce on-the-job stress levels. Such as microlearning online libraries that allow them to tackle everyday work challenges quickly.
Corporate learners can reap a variety of rewards from online training, but there are motivational barriers to this technique as well. Fortunately, these disadvantages are easily spotted, and they’re simple to resolve. They include preconceived ideas about learning, digital illiteracy, limited real estate on the screen, lonely learners, and loss of interest. Remedy these challenges by making the online course fun and producing demos on how to use the software.
Apply mobile-first eLearning course design and build collaboration into your online training course. Give them opportunities for immersive interaction with their online training materials, and with each other. Last, but not least, give them a reason to train by emphasizing the real world benefits.
Do you have the power to turn your online training into an interactive, immersive, and emotionally-engaging online training experience? Read the article 8 Tips To Enhance Motivation In Online Training to find out how to motivate your corporate learners and foster a personal connection.
Christopher Pappas is the Founder of eLearning Industry’s Network, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning field. Christopher holds an MBA and an MEd (Learning Design) from BGSU.
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