Creating Engaging Learning Experiences: A Guide for Professional Development Businesses
The world of professional development is rapidly evolving, and simply having the best resources and tools is no longer enough. Gone are the days of traditional, one-size-fits-all training methods. To truly set your business apart and give your employees and customers the skills they need to succeed, you must focus on building personalised, interactive and dynamic learning experiences.
Everyone has different needs and approaches to learning. Creating engaging and unique learning experiences helps you deliver training programmes that foster a culture of continuous learning aligned with your business values.
One of the most important reasons people globally from different generations and backgrounds enjoy platforms like Netflix and Disney+ is the 'experience'. From the AI to the user interface to discovering favourite genres for individuals, experience is what makes the difference. So why not apply the same to learning and development (L&D)?
As simple as it sounds, building an effective learning experience takes time and effort. L&D leaders frequently face an endless stream of challenges from a lack of support from stakeholders to change-resistant learning cultures.
Some of the common challenges when building learning experiences are:
Information/ resource overload - In a perfect world, the human brain would possess the ability to absorb an infinite amount of knowledge and have no restrictions. But sadly, that’s not the reality we live in. With the amount of information and resources available today, learning leaders often forget to strike the right balance and overwhelm learners with resource overload.
Transforming dry subject matter into engaging e-learning content - This is one of the most common challenges L&D professionals deal with. Dry and heavy subject matter affects the learning experience negatively. It is important to add the right amount of creativity and innovation in order to make the content more interactive and easy to learn. L&D leaders have to utilise different formats based on the subject matter or a mix of formats that can help enhance the learning experience.
Developing content for different generations - Different individuals have different learning needs. L&D professionals often make the mistake of not refurbishing the content to meet the needs of audiences with different learning preferences. When it comes to learning, there is no one-size-fits all and with learners from different generations, it is challenging to build experiences that cater to their learning needs.
Disengagement - Not every individual is going to be motivated enough to learn continuously. Different people are at different stages of their learning journeys. With decreasing attention spans these days, it is challenging to build learning experiences that keep people with different needs engaged. It is important that they see the value in the experience to be engaged with it.
When it comes to learning, people are often under pressure to immediately show progress but engaging learning experiences take time and patience to get right. To help professional development businesses deal with these challenges, we created a guide that will facilitate the successful delivery of engaging learning experiences.
1. Understand Your Audience
Before you build a plan to create a learning experience, it is important to understand who you are building it for. Learning experiences must be adaptive if they are to be delivered to an audience across different demographics, at different stages of their careers, experiences and expertise. With an audience made up of four different generations, it is important that you understand their characteristics, habits, learning behaviour, needs, and the kind of content that appeals to them.
Discuss with the L&D teams and communicate with the existing learner base to understand the following aspects:
- Demographics (Age, location, interests)
- Motivational Factors (End goals, reasons for learning)
- Learning preferences (Formats of learning)
- Preferred mode of learning/ communication
Once you have this information, it becomes easier for you to build learner personas that will facilitate creating the right learning experiences for each of the personas.
2. Personalise Learning Experiences
Once you have your learner personas in place, the next step is to build personalised learning experiences for each of them. One thing we all enjoy about today’s technology is its ability to provide us with personalised recommendations based on our likes and needs. AI has revolutionised almost every complicated aspect of our lives and made them more enjoyable, and learning is no exception. Utilise AI and automation to help learners connect to the right resources and build learning pathways based on their interests and learning styles.
For example, creating a course based on their learning interests could help you build relatable learning content for your audience, but giving them the flexibility to build their own learning pathways or having AI recommend ideal pathways based on their learning behaviour can make the learning experience more engaging for users.
You can utilise tools like Mindset to personalise the experience for your learners. The data capabilities Mindset uses – including user behaviour analysis, adaptable AI, and reporting – are designed to create individual experiences that focus on keeping the users engaged and making the experience enjoyable.
3. Create Compelling Content
Learning content can sometimes be dull and disengaging but it is the most important aspect of the learning experience as a whole. Understanding your audience helps you realise what kind of content and format appeal to different users. Based on your understanding of the learner personas, refurbish the content through the right channels and formats to appeal to the learners.
In the quest to make the content more interactive and fun, L&D leaders sometimes shift from the problem that is supposed to be solved through the content. While interactive and visually appealing content are both important elements of compelling content, it is crucial to focus on the problem that the experience is solving. It is also important to realise that no matter how good the learning experience is, content is the key.
Without quality content, learning experiences cannot engage learners.
4. Measure and Optimise
When building engaging learning experiences, it is important to understand that the experiences need to change with the changing learner behaviours.
When you are catering to a wide range of audiences, it is important to take into account the change in learning trends and consumer behaviour. In order to understand learner behaviour, you have to gather user insights from time to time through learning analytics. These analytics help you identify new learning trends helping you enhance the learning experience with time.
There are multiple learning analytics tools available in the market to understand learner behaviour that could be integrated with your current learning management system. Mindset is built to continually analyse your learner's behaviour so that you're always ready to respond to change.
5. Social learning - Build a community
When it comes to learning, engaging users is one of the challenges L&D professionals face. Humans are social creatures and often have the need to feel they are part of something important, a community. Some of us learn better in social settings than without them. Giving access to a learning community that provides learners with the ability to express, collaborate, compete and support each other makes the learning experience more engaging and productive.
There are multiple tools that facilitate social learning, encouraging learners to make the most of their learning experiences.
Individuals learn at different speeds and at different intervals. Some people want to complete courses in one go, while others prefer to dedicate specific time to a course every day until they complete it. With this in mind, it is important to keep your resources flexible. Aim to create an experience where learners feel supported and motivated.
Like mentioned earlier, when learners are given excessive information it overwhelms them, whilst too little information disengages them. It is important to find the right balance between the two. Make essential learning resources accessible to learners whenever they want without making it a resource overload for them.
In summary, creating personalised, interactive, and dynamic learning experiences is crucial for the success of professional development. However, building effective learning experiences can be challenging. To overcome these challenges, it is important to understand the audience, strike the right balance of information and resources, and add creativity and innovation to e-learning content. By following these guidelines, learning and development leaders can create successful and engaging learning experiences for employees.
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