The digital revolution, coupled with mass unemployment, growing inequality, and talent shortage, has placed a premium on reskilling and upskilling. As a result, organizations have taken the lead role in supporting their workforce through an enhanced learning experience. In fact, with the radically changing context for the workforce, improving the learning experience has become a necessity rather than a prerequisite.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything about the learning experience, its importance, and how it impacts learner engagement. We’ll dig deep into this topic to unearth the information you need to deliver an impactful learning experience. Moreover, we’ll show you how to use LMS software to build learner experience that increases learner engagement.
The implications of technological and demographic change are far-reaching for employment and skills. Modern organizations are well-aware of this fact, and many have gone all out to adjust to the new reality. In fact, with the continually changing global workforce typified by increased job hopping, 65% of organizations have prioritized reskilling their current employees.
Source: The Future of Jobs Report
Additionally, organizations have adopted holistic learning approaches to facilitate continuous learning for the agile workforce. This comes after the revelation that ongoing learning improves employee retention. This is seen by many as the perfect remedy to job-hopping. Moreover, experts divulge that holistic learning empowers workers to gain and retain knowledge and skills.
This is just scratching the surface as holistic learning offers many benefits beyond this. As such, organizations should prioritize creating a culture of continuous learning.
But even so, every organization needs to pay attention to the learning experience it delivers. By improving the learning experience, organizations have the opportunity to offer the training that enables their employees to be successful.
Holistic corporate training has three key elements: the employee (trainee), the instructor, and the system (technology tools and learning processes). The ability of this setup to successfully enable employees to develop and achieve competence boils down to the learning experience.
So, what is the learning experience definition?
The learning experience refers to the contextual or co-created conditions within which trainees experience the learning environment, including physical or virtual surroundings, instructor, course design, and the institution’s emotional and cognitive cultures.
In other words, the learning experience is the interaction (traditional or modern), program, course, or any other experience in which learning occurs. Essentially, the learning experience highlights the purpose of learning, rather than how or where it is delivered.
Now that you know what is a good learning experience let’s delve into the types of learning experience.
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), there are three types of learning experiences:
Self-study is just as its name suggests. It’s a case where trainees engage individually, with zero interactions with other participants or instructors, using the same learning materials.
This approach is embodied by contextualized experiences, and it requires learners to acquire and apply understanding on their own. The common self-study course includes newsletters, audio files, video recordings, and journals.
This represents the typical learning experience where learners engage with each other, the material, and the instructor. Group course includes training sessions, workshops, study materials, presentations, elearning, and games.
The blended learning experience combines the power of self-study and group formats. As such, organizations present learning as instructor-led training, online learning, or group sessions.
In essence, learner engagement is the degree of a learner’s interaction and cooperation with the instructor, other learners, and learning materials. It underscores the quality and quantity of learner’s participation, commitment, and motivation, not just to reach the set milestones but also to acquire relevant knowledge.
Intrinsically engaged learners are active in training, process information more deeply, and frequently seek clarification on concepts that elude them. Moreover, they are eager to participate in discussions, prefer challenging tasks, and are confident about their competence. Additionally, engaged learners are 2.5 times more likely to record excellent performance than their actively disengaged counterparts.
But, what does it take to achieve the highest degree of learner engagement?
Attaining optimal learner engagement, especially in corporate training, is easier said than done. This is because learner engagement is a continuous process that co-occurs on three fronts, namely: emotional, cognitive, and behavioral level.
Let us look at the three dimensions of learner engagement:
Learners are engaged emotionally when, during the training, they feel inherently connected to other learners, instructors, and the training context. At this level, learners feel attached to the learning journey and aligned with the course objectives. Hence, they are fully committed to the training.
Besides, learners experience low levels of anxiety and are emotionally invested in how the entire group performs.
To achieve emotional engagement, you should implement a well-thought course design that keeps the learners feeling positive about the training. Ideally, you should explain to the learner, in black and white, why the training is important to their personal and professional development.
On the other hand, when learners are engaged on a cognitive level, they feel good about their work. Moreover, they trust their ability to comprehend and deeply master new knowledge, even on their own.
At this level, learners even come up with clever ways to remember complex concepts. For example, some trainees will take it upon themselves to craft mnemonics to remember the stages of software testing procedures. Others will draw mind maps to organize new knowledge and represent it in a way that’s difficult to forget.
Lastly, behavioral engagement is superficial, hence, easy to observe. Actually, this is the shallowest form of learner engagement, and its pointers include an increased rate of attention, participation, persistence, concentration, and involvement in training-related activities. Moreover, learners are always on task and comply with the set rules.
Consider this; learner engagement is the perceptual value achieved when learning experience interplays with a learner’s self-efficacy. From this perspective, we can deduce that great learning experience isn’t an end goal, but a vehicle for improving learner engagement. It’s a vital ingredient, which, when coupled with sustained learner’s self-efficacy, leads to improved engagement.
That being said, in every corporate training paradigm, it’s easy to pinpoint great learning experiences but way more challenging to measure why they feel great. The complexity makes it difficult to deconstruct how learning experiences impact learner engagement. Perhaps, this is the reason why only 38% of corporate training programs are meeting the learners’ needs.
In this section, we’ll discuss the characteristics of the learning experience and show how each impacts the dimensions of learner engagement. Here are the qualities of an effective learning experience:
A good learning experience is authentic, realistic, and informative. An authentic learning experience entails learning tasks that connect to life beyond the boardroom or the learning environment. In other words, the tasks are connected to the ideas you’re teaching as well as the real world.
Most importantly, the tasks are relatable and modeled around real characters and the current events. This way, the tasks prevent cognitive overload or distraction, hence, inspiring learners to take action and do things that matter to them and others.
The best way to create an authentic learning experience is to involve experts to pinpoint relevant activities and worthy problems for learners to solve. Besides, you should avoid using content that’s laced with details for the sake of entertainment. In doing so, you’ll spark emotional engagement amongst learners and make them feel connected to training.
A great learning experience focuses on adding value to learners. Put differently, and the experience should be drawn upon the learner’s core strengths. It should also be purposeful and laser-focused on helping learners understand concepts they couldn’t on their own.
Remember, learning to complete milestones doesn’t bring long-term value. Instead, it wastes time and money and is highly likely to leave learners demotivated and detached. On the other hand, when people learn towards a clearly defined goal, time, and effort spent on the learning experience are easy to justify.
In this case, when you fixate on providing value and consistently work towards achieving this goal, the experience becomes easy for learners to stick by. The learners will most likely buy into the idea and consistently feel intrinsically motivated. In return, what you get is increased cognitive and behavioral engagement.
An interactive learning experience is one that interweaves a captivating narrative. It leverages visual focal points, such as videos, flow charts, posters, and flashcards to keep the learner glued to the training.
Visual content adds an enthralling, aesthetic component to the learning experience. Plus, if the visuals are interesting, relevant, and meaningful, they add fun and leave learners feeling good. As a result, learners become attached to the lessons and often value the learning process as well as the outcomes gained through it.
A collaborative learning experience fosters a shared sense of ownership and responsibility amongst learners. Put simply; it includes group activities that encourage learners to gain strength through working with others. You should model the activities to allow optimal interaction to conjure up critical thinking.
Fundamentally, collaborative learning experience empowers learners to work with peers who may have relevant expertise or knowledge. It brings to life opportunities for learners to build on the strengths of their colleagues. This way, it allows new and better ideas to spring up.
Consequently, learners are exposed to unique perspectives and ideas which help them grow in their practice and spur others as well. Besides, collaboration pulls flailing learners along, ensuring that they are pushed to do their best. Most importantly, it awakens the learner’s engagement on all fronts, including the emotional, behavioral, and cognitive levels.
Social learning simply means sharing of information through the available channels. Primarily, this type of learning is embodied by small group exercises, learning networks, and on-the-job mentoring.
Like a collaborative learning experience, it gives learners shared authority, choice, control, and responsibility. Interestingly, it allows learners to brainstorm and bounce questions off one another. In doing so, it helps create learning experiences that stimulate memorability.
Inevitably, questions require learners to analyze and decode information beyond simple recall. They nudge the learners’ high-order thinking skills and provide opportunities to interpret information and create a compelling response.
Moreover, when learners ask questions and seek answers, they expend great effort and time on the learning process. When learners bombard you with questions and seek clarifications on difficult, complex concepts, it’s a sign that they are invested in the training process.
However, as an instructor, it’s your responsibility to ensure that these questions and responses align perfectly with the goals. For example, you should be meticulous when picking the challenges for learners to solve. Ideally, you should give learners questions that are well within their skill level. This way, it’ll be easy to tie the learners to the training process and ensure that they’re genuinely interested in seeing it out.
Lastly, a great learning experience provides room for learner self-assessment. Meaning, it creates opportunities to evaluate, analyze, and provide feedback. Also, it allows learners to pinpoint their mistakes and learn from the plausible consequences.
The feedback ought to be individualized and not in any way compared with other learner’s results. It should also be specific about learner’s performance and intertwined with advice to better the quality of work. To be productive, the feedback should clearly outline task goals and ways to reach the set targets.
Learners can benefit from self-assessment throughout the training administration. It enhances emotional, cognitive, and behavioral engagement, and goes a long way in improving individual and organizational performance.
Next, let’s learn how to increase learner engagement.
A library with over 700 courses designed to bring relevant, engaging content enhances learner engagement.
As we’ve seen, the learning experience impacts learner engagement strategies in multiple dimensions. For this reason, to improve learner engagement, organizations must strive to create the ultimate learning experience. There are four invaluable methods for creating a learning experience that works. They include:
To create a highly effective learning experience, it’s important to align learning initiatives with your organizational goals and objectives. Besides, it’s critical to ditch traditional learning metrics, such as completion rates, test scores, and course satisfaction. The metrics are good, but they never indicate as to whether the program is improving learner or organizational performance.
Instead, outline the targeted tangible outcomes and KPIs like retention, revenue growth, profitability, and employee engagement. You should then design and implement learning and development (L&D) initiates to achieve the desired results.
Today’s workplaces are home to a vibrant, multigenerational workforce. Employees want instant access to relevant content and have placed a premium on personalization. As such, your learning management system (LMS) needs not only provides thousands of courses. It should also curate the content and serve personalized courses to every learner.
This way, it allows you to deliver personalized, contextualized, and relevant learning. Besides, you’ll put learners in full control of their development, thus driving better results.
We’ve mentioned three key aspects, but how can learner engagement be improved further? Well, you must embrace technology and use it to support your strategy. Remember, when it comes to developing a learning experience that works, technology is the enabler, and strategy is the driver. This means; first, you need to create a well-defined learning experience strategy. Once the strategy is in place, you can think of the technology that best meets your training needs.
When it comes to the learning experience, the best LMS software doesn’t necessarily mean one that has all the bells and whistles. Instead, a good LMS should be user-friendly, and provide special features such as AI-driven learning, gamification, and video learning, to name a few. Additionally, weigh your needs and know the questions to ask before buying LMS software.
A good example of an LMS solution that facilitates great learning experience is Docebo. This is a powerful learning management system that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to facilitate better learning experiences. The AI-powered technology improves learner experience through deeper personalization and automation of time-consuming tasks. Besides, it facilitates informal learning, streamlines learning management, and above all, uses gamification to keep learners motivated.
Learner experience design (LXD) anchors the learning experience to ensure the learning process is relevant, enjoyable, engaging, and informative.
LXD is a holistic, interdisciplinary approach that employs the principles of accessibility, usability, and convenience to support elearning. LXD seeks to improve outcomes while enhancing learner’s application and retention of knowledge. Put simply; it enables both employers and employees to reap the benefits of LMS software.
The learning experience development process has different stages which include:
The importance of learning experience in today’s multigenerational workforce is a low hanging fruit for forward-thinking organizations. However, we’re on the cusps of the fourth industrial revolution, and the tenets of employment and skills are rapidly changing.
Besides, new technologies have given birth to innovations, such as teleconferencing, remote working, and co-working. Beyond these, there are arrays of geo-political, socio-economic, and demographic developments, each tempting to spin the principles of the workforce.
We cannot deny, the changes have had a near-simultaneous impact on the need for new skills and employment in general. As such, organizations have to anticipate more changes and adapt proactively for future prosperity. This is because what defines great experience today, won’t be the same two or five years from now.
For this reason, you have to make a move, and as soon as possible. But, remember, there is no universal formula for a great learning experience. As such, you’ve to master and build the experience by experimenting, experiencing, and learning. You can borrow a leaf from valuable learning experience examples and remain abreast of elearning trends. Remember, implementing elearning in corporate training increases knowledge retention by 60% and productivity by 30%.
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