A friend, Thomas, wrote me this morning asking this question – how can I motivate my learners? It’s an incredibly universal question. One that I have thought about quite a bit. I thought others might enjoy reading my reply – and it might make for an excellent conversation starter. It’s worth noting that we were talking about motivation in the specific context of learners using Adobe’s LMS (Adobe Captivate Prime.) Below you’ll find my response:
1. Communicate relevance: Use the announcement system to invite people to explore a bit of content that benefits them. For example – a course designed to boost sales, or a common tech problem explained, perhaps some particularly video heavy or short form piece to start. You can also use alternative company channels to communicate the purpose / relevance of the training- market your initiative based on it’s alignment to the company business objectives. Don’t be shy about branding it, and explaining how the project can help the organization meet important goals.
2. Use their desire to demonstrate mastery to supervisor and colleagues. For example- use the gamification solution to award points for first to access content (You’ll find it on the instance of a course under gamification options – admin mode.) You can use the announcement system to notify them of the opportunity. Publicly recognize those individuals that are doing training. Push messages via newsletters and your company website about recognition for achievements – even consider announcing when people achieve / master a given skill. Perhaps even recognize it with awards.
3. Craft the messaging as opportunities to get ahead, and invitations – rather than requirements. This one is a little counter-intuitive. Use the skill requirement engine to assign job appropriate skills to employees – but not specific courses. Ensure you message them about how to search for skill aligned content that will help them master the skill(s) that they have been assigned. Message about the importance of the skills you assigned – to the overall business strategy for the current quarter. This added sense of autonomy should encourage them to self-enroll.
What do you think? What methods are you using to motivate your learners? Have you got any success stories? Failures? Hot tips? Pitfalls?
Love that approach, Joe
In all the Captivate classes I teach, I introduce important design principles because so many come to the class not knowing anything about proper learner approach and design.
One of the factors I bring up is to stop asking the question “What do we need to teach?” without asking “How does this benefit the learner? Why should the learner learn this?”
Knowing why the learner needs to learn the content usually leads directly to in what situations does knowing the content help on the job. This then makes it much easier to envision case-based scenarios that challenge the learner and make the learning much more engaging.
I think it’s important to remember that learners have their own reasons for wanting to complete training. Try to tap into that.
While working at the Toronto International Airport (Toronto Pearson), I built a compliance eLearning course on the environmental initiatives and policies at the airport. Instead of focusing on why these policies and initiatives were important to the airport, I drew attention to why they might be important to the learners. A short survey at the beginning of the course showed that the learner’s objectives, while differently motivated, pointed to the same goals.
I’m a huge fan of that approach Paul. I think it helps motivate strongly when we understand why the training will make our lives better. Help us do our job better. Help us with some common struggle. Understanding purpose can go a long way toward making the training feel worthwhile.
Thank you Paul.
Sounds like you were tapping into the learners’ intrinsic level of motivation. OMG! How challenging is that?! As an L&D pro, stopping to think of the countless motivation triggers each learner may have can be overwhelming to say the least.
Then, building learning that hits those triggers, hits the key competencies, increases on-the-job-performance, and supports the org in achieving its biz goals…PHEW! We’ve got to love what we do.
I have been so very fortunate to be involved for the last ten years and more in a K-12 online course co-operative. We build our courses to have an at your own pace and a live online classroom option. Certainly, the build pace we have had for the last ten plus years means that more lessons that I would like to admit fall into the listen to content and take a quiz format due to tight time pressures. However, sprinkled generously throughout courses are lessons that broke the listen quiz mold because I had more time to really make them something special. The most popular by far have been the Biomysteries and the Chemysteries. These are very story-based where the students work as a group in the role of main characters to solve a medical or crime mystery related to the topics we have been learning in the module. I also get a chance in these to extend their learning by showing them more about the topics, presenting them with lab techniques that would be impossible to do k-12 any other way but virtually, and to get them out of recall of information into deeper problem-solving thinking skills. When word gets out that we will have a mystery, I have often had graduated students pop in to the class day asking if they can join in if they promise not to give anything away. That is how much these are loved.
Here is just a little part of one of them. It is one of the medical mystery themed biomysteries and it is the first interactive in the storyline. The main character, Sarah Belindo, is trying to help Dr. Stevenson from the CDC find commonalities between a baby that was brought in to the hospital with the same symptoms as her unconscious brother. She was with him all that day and the hope is they can find the common cause between them. In this interactive, the student is playing the role of Sarah who has been handed Dr. Stevenson’s iPad with the notes he has from visiting the Alliger’s apartment (baby’s home). The students in that role of Sarah will be getting clues as they click on the camera icons, and some red-herrings as well, as to what could have made them sick. After the interactive, they change roles to Dr. Stevens and work together to try to ask good questions of Sarah. In the live classroom delivery, I play Sarah’s role and answer what they come up with.
Try it – http://www.virtualhomeschoolgroup.org/vhsgfiles/03_Science/00_Science_Mysteries/Bleeding_Syndrome/Level_1_Gathering_Clues/02_Dr_Stevens_iPad/Published/SWF_and_HTML5/multiscreen.html. Note that you will want to select the ‘Alliger AprtmentNotes’ since Dr. Stevenson has only just begun to get information for Tony Belindo. For the live online classroom, the blend of doing individual interactive activities to get clues or do virtual labs to solve the mystery with brainstorming as a group is a huge hit. This one is for a biology module on the kingdom Monera (baceria), so you might naturally guess that eventually the cause of the illness would be bacterial but along the way they will do filtering, test for a variety of possible causes using culturing techniques, working with a photometer to test for chemical toxins, use of a control, the Kirby Bauer Disc test, and more.
If you are curious about the graphics, this particular interactive’s graphics are built in Google Sketch Up. I am a digital illustrator that usually works 2D, but this one with a lot of apartment scenes begged for something that could be built 3D to set the scenes. Now I would use Blender or Maya to do these, but at the time I needed something light and fast to build in with a low learning curve. Also, many other builders in Sketch ip offered the models they built under Creative Commons License for a non-commercial use (we are a non-profit) like this speeding up the scene building steps.
I have a good number of these Biomysteries and Chemysteries now. There are many different story lines, even a Sherlock Holmes one where chemistry students need to use what they are learning about finding the concentration of substances to find the murderer. Is it the fireworks master, the doctor, or the photographer? Only science can tell.
We have a project we will be kicking back up again this coming school year where the students sign up for Photoshop, Illustrator, Animate, Captivate, and whatever other need might be there and they learn the software. All of the assignments in their chosen course team lead them to design and play a part in the build of a new course. The first semester is mostly tool learning, but the second semester really locks on to using what they learned with the focus being on their team’s contribution to the course build. They all take part in developing the objectives, storyline, illustrations and animations, building the interactive activities and whatever else is needed depending on the course focus they are signed up for. We ran this back in the 2014/15 school year for a Marine Biology course build. They came up with such a wonderful and grand fully in-game and in-story course design. Every assessment is an in-game, natural to the storyline activity. The students in the course they designed do not stop and then go do a multiple choice quiz. They likely will not even realize they are being assessed because to them they are participating as a character in the game. I have been anxiously awaiting our return to doing these. We haven’t run it again due to our work load of moving to a new version of our LMS and having to rebuild all of our courses to take advantage of new tools. That was too huge a project last year and this year to add the student course build into it too. But, this year everything has slowed down enough to dare to bring it back. The project for the Marine Biology was so big, it couldn’t be built in the time we had back in 2015/16, so I am leaning to picking that one up again and the students in the coming year can take the torch and run their part of the build from where the last classes left off.There is still plenty of room for the new students to work on designs for in-game assessments, development of characters, storyline details, art and animations, and more to keep them busy, busy, busy this year. I also want to add in new elements we never covered in the first run such as color scripts and go deeper into topics we only lightly touched on in the first run such as more about animation. I also want to see if the new Character Animator might be doable. The students will love working with that new software. I know it leans more to the After Effects/Video workflow, but I have some hope it might fit into ours. If nothing else, it will be a good tool for planning out how the characters are built, how to do the visemes, and how much performance is a part of character animation.
I love the integration of live and virtual – and so cool to use narratives to drive the inquiry. What a great approach.