Manage Learning by Engaging Your Audience

  • By: Tom McKeown
  • Blog
  • March 18, 2013

Sesame Street was the worst thing that ever happened to the cause of education in this country. That is what my mother, who was a career educator back in the 1970’s, said shortly after the program came on the air. Her reason was that it set the expectation in every student’s mind that learning had to be fun. Whether things got as bad she thought or just got harder for the teachers, engaging students is the top priority in learning. This is especially true in the corporate world where the students are professionals with even more to distract them than those who are in school.

Learning Management Systems first became popular because they provided on-demand content. In business we are all at the mercy of our changing calendars and education often takes a back seat to getting that deal finished or an important project done. The capacity for an organization to record in-house content that can be distributed and accessed by individuals at any time is vital. Also, allowing that content to be mobile so it can be available on tablets and Smart phones will allow learners to engage wherever and whenever they have downtime.

The trick is: How do you make recorded content engaging Podcasts or videos often lead to inattentive audiences whose members either doze off or have their minds wander during the presentation. Embedding interactive quizzes and polling can help keep the student alert and paying closer attention to the content so they don’t miss something that may be referenced later. The don’t have to be SAT level of difficulty, but questions probing how well the individual listened and maintained the content.

Finally, a new terminology/technique that has been gaining ground in the corporate learning world is that of “Gamification”. Gamification entails creating online contests where users accrue points or tokens for both taking and doing well on required courses. It is most important that the contests emphasize participation and the stars, but not humiliate losers. The goal is not to create a system where individuals are intimidated to take courses, but instead they feel an incentive to do so.

Learning is never going to be as going to be fun as the activities you do when you’re on vacation. However, it needs to be engaging enough to get people log on and stick with it. So, liven up your learning!

Connect with Tom

Tom McKeown was recently the CEO and Co-founder of TrenData, which was acquired by isolved HCM in 2021. He currently manages the product team and business unit for their People Analytics offering.

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