3 Keys to Engaging Learning Experiences

Imagine the typical learning experience for an employee consuming traditional content. Alison gets an email reminder that she needs to complete a course. She opens it and clicks through in the three minutes she has before a big meeting. Afterward, she gets the confirmation that the completion has been recorded by the system, allowing her to get back to work.

How impactful was that learning experience? How likely is it to stick with her? More pressingly, what is the likelihood that it actually changes her behavior or improves her performance in some way?

This is a common challenge in the learning world. According to our latest research on learning content strategy, just 28% of organizations say their learning content creates an engaging user experience and drives value for those that consume the content. That leaves more than seven in ten employers struggling to get out of the content "rut" that they have existed in for some time.

There are several ways to up-level your learning content to create more engaging experiences, but before I jump into those three areas, it's critical to also note that approximately three in four organizations are not using a strategy to drive learning content development and delivery. Above all else, having a core strategy is critical to target the right skills, behaviors and competencies necessary to create a high-performing workforce.

Approach to learning content strategy

Create Engaging Learning Experiences

During a recent research interview with a UK-based learning leader, I asked him about the importance of creating positive, engaging learning experiences. His response shocked me:

Learning experiences? If the only point is to create something pretty and fun so that I get high marks for satisfaction after the training, that was a waste of resources. It’s rubbish if that is the only measure of success. However, if the point is to create an experience where the content and concepts are retained longer and the learner is more likely to change behaviors due to the engaging nature of the content, that’s something I’d be all too happy to invest in.

This is a great reminder of the purpose of creating engaging learning experiences. It’s not about satisfaction or happiness alone--it’s about the results that be derived from creating a more valuable experience. With that said, let’s jump into the three areas L&D needs to focus on to create better experiences.

1. Get crystal clear about purpose and strategy.

The purpose of learning content is not to check a block or fill a funnel. Quantity is less important than quality, yet quantity is one of the measures that L&D points to as justification of its efforts. The right approach is to focus on improving individual and business performance. High-performing companies (those with improved business metrics year over year) are twice as likely to develop and deploy content in accordance with a defined strategy.

2. Don’t let content delivery get stale. Mix it up.

High-performing companies are more likely to bring other elements into their delivery approach. High performers are:

  • Three times more likely to be adding social/collaborative learning technology
  • Three times more likely to be adding video learning technology
  • More likely to be adding mobile capabilities

This isn't about just trying to hit a target percentage of content. It's about giving learners options to explore learning tools and methods that mean the most to them individually.

3. Measure early and often.

High performers are twice as likely to measure learning effectiveness, whether that is formal, informal, or experiential. Without fail, organizations that sustain great L&D performance are those that measure effectiveness and use it as a feedback mechanism for honing content over time. Can you answer these questions about your learning content:

  • Which of your activities is currently most engaging for learners?
  • How do you know this is true?
  • What value does this learning actually deliver to the business or the learners themselves?

In Conclusion

Learning needs to create experiences to be impactful. If we think that learning can be transactional simply because of the content or the topic, we've already lost.

Consider something as mundane as an ethics training briefing. It could easily be a click-through PowerPoint deck and count as training, but does it actually affect behavior? What if the learning included a social or video element where one group participant was planted to raise ethical questions in an effort to prompt discussions and uncover opportunities for coaching?

While it's a very simple example, it just goes to show that no content, topic, or employee is exempt from the need for learning content that makes learners think, reflect and react. I'll close by quoting my UK-based L&D friend again: "If the point is to create an experience where the content and concepts are retained longer and the learner is more likely to change behaviors due to the engaging nature of the content, that's something I'd be all too happy to invest in."

So true. If this is a topic you'd be interested in exploring more deeply, be sure to check out our recent webinar recording to hear some of the stories from companies like Heineken and Bristol Meyers Squibb on how they make learning more impactful for learners.

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