Expert Interview: How to Engage Employees in Online Training

Sometimes it’s easy to blame participants’ lack of time or motivation, but these are not always the causes of low engagement.

Online training, whether in-person or through eLearning, not only presents challenges for those on the receiving end, but also for facilitators and instructional designers. In this interview, Yolanda Barquera (YB) and Luis Arteaga (LA), who both hold extensive experience in the design, development, and production of online training, share how to increase participants’ interest and level of involvement in this type of training.

At IDESAA, they have participated in the development of an eLearning course library with a differentiated model that is geared toward achieving a great user experience through multiple resources that increase learning effectiveness. Likewise, they have provided online training solutions for several organizations for more than seven years and have implemented hundreds of projects aimed at achieving high terminal efficiency and low dropout rates.

What does it take to keep employees’ attention in online training?

YB: Sometimes it’s easy to blame participants’ lack of time or motivation, but these are not always the causes of low engagement. At a time when many companies are migrating their in-person training to an online format, it is important to consider some features to incorporate in the course design in order to make it effective and engaging from start to finish.

Given that online training goes beyond PowerPoint slides or keeping participants connected to their computer in a purely informative course, without the interaction that would normally take place in a training room, can you tell us what elements should be considered to make eLearning effective?

LA: As a starting point, you have to be clear about the training’s objectives and develop it with consideration for aspects such as unit design, high interactivity, practical approach, gamification elements, and of course, engaging graphic design.

What do you mean by “unit design”?

YB: It’s not about presenting each topic separately. It’s not as simple as that. It’s about delivering the content in a way that is easy to digest and retain. It is distributed in small parts, each with a particular objective. Neuroscience has shown that our attention span is 10 minutes, and after that it starts to diminish. We can make the learning experience much more relevant by breaking down the content into small segments, allowing participants to digest it, and then summarizing and highlighting the essential points at the end of each unit or section.

Why is it important to consider “high interactivity”?

LA: There are studies that validate the fact that the more resources or stimuli used in a training experience, the more learning is achieved. Implementing this in an online project requires integrating a wide variety of digital learning resources in our courses such as videos, podcasts, voice-over slides, animations, dynamic graphics, and interactive activities, among others. If we are able to include the right amount and mixture of resources in our project, we will achieve a highly interactive course and, therefore, a strong stimulus to encourage learning.

How do you go beyond just acquiring knowledge?

YB: The right blend of these resources should lead the participant to cross the gap from knowing to doing. To achieve this, we apply a methodology that ensures the practical application of contents through Inform – Demonstrate – Do – Evaluate. The more the participants act on the information they have digested through activities, questionnaires, problem solving, or case analysis, the more likely it is that they will understand how to apply the content and that it will remain in their long-term memory.

Another element you mentioned is gamification. How can it be incorporated into a course?

LA: Gamification is one of the most creative and effective ways to awaken participants’ interest, motivation, and appetite for learning. It refers to how we guide them to seek achievements in their training, making use of a reward system, where each achievement translates into a specific reward. The interesting thing is that this process results in a change in people that encourages new behaviors and attitudes, with high participation, and best of all, it does not require a large investment to achieve it.

Finally, what importance should we give to graphic design in online courses?

YB: Although it may seem obvious, many course producers don’t take this point into account. Usually, our attention is focused on what we find pleasing to the eye, or in contrast, what we find “ugly” or “weird.” However, it’s an element that we cannot minimize since we need to get participants’ attention with a pleasant, enjoyable, and aesthetic graphic environment that makes them feel comfortable and piques their interest so they stay “there.” A project’s graphic design is extremely relevant to achieving a pleasant and successful user experience, which they will surely remember and talk about with others.

Online training will soon cease to be optional. If you’re going through a transition in the format of your talent development programs, these elements will be very useful and, ultimately, will help improve engagement in your courses to get employees involved and connected and to transform them.

About the Experts:

Yolanda Barquera
Yolanda Barquera
is Director of Talent Development at IDESAA. She is a business coach and consultant in talent development and process analysis. She is passionate about development and processes of change and loves to get new opportunities to continue learning. She is a specialist in e-Learning project design and implementation.

Luis ArteagaLuis Arteaga is the operations director at Mi Cursor. In his 15+ years of experience, he has taken part in the successful design, development, and implementation of over 100 eLearning training projects.