6 Ways to Instantly Improve Learner Engagement and Productivity

Jun 3, 2024
5 minutes
|      by
Anja Milovanović
digital badges education

Sticking to passive lectures is a surefire way to induce yawning and let the learners’ thoughts drift far away.

Even with an excellent course structure and relevant learning materials, most of the crowd will sit through the session struggling to stay focused, with little to no motivation to interact.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to improve the atmosphere and keep learners engaged: in today’s blog, we’ll show the top 6 with the biggest ROI:

  1. Using multiple interactive materials and techniques;
  2. Explaining the knowledge usability with real-life examples and scenarios;
  3. Awarding effort with digital certificates and badges they can use as assets in professional and educational growth;
  4. Fostering a healthy feedback culture;
  5. Letting learners collaborate and organize sessions themselves;
  6. Showing them the possibilities they have at the end of the program. 

#1 Use a Variety of Interactive Learning Materials and Techniques

Introduce your classroom to some new, exciting, and dynamic learning materials and techniques. Choose some of these, depending on their applicability to your program: 

  1. Don’t shy away from pop culture — There’s quite a lot to learn from the tipping discussion from Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs”. Feel free to play short clips from beloved classics to illustrate your topic. Be careful and select the clips that do instigate the discussion, but aren’t offensive, discriminatory, or too disturbing for the audience.
  2. Create immersive AR and VR experiences — Engage the learners by letting themselves explore the materials on a deeper level; blend virtual elements with the real world (AR) or create entirely virtual environments (VR) to facilitate different experiments. 
  3. Take them on a virtual field trip — Allow the learners to explore museums, landmarks, ecosystems, and historical sites worldwide through virtual tours, videos, and interactive exhibits hosted online.
  4. Gamify the learning experience — incorporate free apps, quizzes, and create small competitions between participants to test their knowledge in a fun, engaging way.

#2 Tie the Syllabus to Real-World Scenarios

“I will NEVER use this in real life, so why bother learning it?!”

There’s no day or a class that educators don’t hear this question muttered under someone’s breath. Don’t leave these questions unanswered: show the learners how to apply what they’ve learned, so they see the value of staying engaged.

Currently, the most desirable jobs are closely related to software development, finance, data science, healthcare, and AI. So, explain that learning those pesky algebra and biology lessons may very well be what lifts them miles above the competition, and enables them to one day score the well-paying jobs of their dreams.

Include viable, real-life examples as a key part of your lesson planning with:

  • Guest lectures — Invite a loved and revered guest to your lesson so learners can hear about their experience first-hand. Ideally, it should be one of your former learners, teaching them how to use what you’re teaching them and showing them different paths their education and career can go.
  • Case studies — Case studies show how applied knowledge boosts the numbers; the language of increased profits, customer base, and rewards received is easy to understand.
  • Hackathons — Hackathons scheduled for the end of the program will motivate the learners to stay focused on the learning materials since they’ll have an opportunity to compete at the end and win praise, recognition, and valuable prizes — not to mention a sweet addition to their resume.
  • Virtual simulations allow learners to explore real-world scenarios and practice skills in a safe and controlled environment. Simulations can teach anything from scientific experiments to business management techniques.

#3 Award Their Effort With Digital Certificates and Badges

Issuing digital certificates and badges significantly enhances learner engagement.

The recipients' have a tangible recognition of their achievements and progress: these digital credentials represent the skills and knowledge acquired through educational programs, courses, or training activities. Earning digital certificates and badgesnboosts their confidence and motivation to continue learning and advancing in their chosen field.

Additionally, digital certificates and badges offer learners a portable and shareable way to showcase their skills and credentials across various platforms, including social media, professional networking sites, and online portfolios.

This not only helps learners build a positive online presence but also increases their visibility to potential employers and collaborators.

After all, the transparency and authenticity of digital credentials, often accompanied by metadata detailing the skills acquired and criteria met, provide greater credibility and trust in the learner's abilities, further enhancing their value in the eyes of employers and peers alike.

Issuing digital certificates and badges as part of a learner engagement strategy not only recognizes and celebrates learners' achievements but also empowers them to take ownership of their learning journey and confidently pursue their career goals.

Learn more about digital certificates and badges as a way to enhance your business!

#4 Create an Open Feedback Channel

Start by fostering a feedback culture.

Lead by example and demonstrate openness to feedback from students. This will help create a safe space and atmosphere where feedback is normalized as a regular part of the learning routine.

Encourage students to exchange constructive feedback respectfully, with clear guidelines, focusing on patterns that need to change for better outcomes. 

Also, promote self-reflection and teach students to identify their strengths and weaknesses independently. 

Designated Q&A time at each class — Don’t hold off the Q&A session until the end of the lecture! This is a frequent mistake lecturers make. As the end of the session nears, the engagement naturally drops, and most people are too impatient to stick around. Instead, take brief breaks for Q&A throughout the class, to “refresh” their engagement levels and help them stay focused.

At the end, create permanent questionnaires and forms they can use all the time to leave questions you can discuss during the next session, or respond at your 

#5 Enable Collaborative Learning and Peer Teaching

Collaborative learning and peer teaching are educational approaches that emphasize active participation, interaction, and cooperation among students, making this approach the strongest booster of learner engagement. Collaborative learning helps learners understand the materials better and retain the knowledge long-term.

WIth collaborative learning, students work in groups to achieve shared goals. 

As a part of the similar learning philosophy, peer teaching lets students assume the educator’s role. Students actively engage with the material by discussing, explaining, and teaching it to others. 

Some other pros of collaborative learning include:

  • Developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Building interpersonal relationships
  • Socializing with peers and developing people (communication) skills

Most importantly, letting learners take the lead (in a controlled learning environment and with your guidance) has an outstanding effect on their engagement.

Here are some activity ideas for collaborative learning:

  • Group projects and presentations
  • Competitions and debates
  • Problem-solving challenges
  • Simulations and role-playing in a setting close to real-life situations 

#6 Provide Them With Personalized Learning and Career Paths

Personalized learning and career paths target individual’s unique interests and goals, and help them advance by applying their preferred learning methods.

The engagement levels remain high because learners can see things work out in their favor in real time, with tangible goals waiting on the other side. That’s why personalized learning paths keep learners motivated and committed.

These are the key steps in building custom learning paths that guide to fulfilling careers:

  1. Learner assessments — Find out about their individual goals, interests, strengths, and areas for development. You can use a variety of tools, mentorship guidance manuals, and performance evaluation forms to research.
  2. Explore different goals and options with learners — Work with learners to set clear, achievable goals for their learning and career development. Encourage them to identify both short-term and long-term objectives, and help them break down larger goals into smaller, manageable steps. Offer access to resources such as online courses, workshops, job shadowing opportunities, and informational interviews to help them discover their interests and passions.
  3. Create personalized learning plans — Tailor the education plans to accommodate different learning styles and preferences, and incorporate a mix of formal education, on-the-job training, and experiential learning opportunities.
  4. Provide mentorship and guidance along the way — Provide regular feedback to learners on their progress and performance, and use their feedback to adjust the learning and career plans as needed. Don’t shy away from constructive criticism!

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