Distance learning can present both a wealth of opportunities and unexpected challenges by creating a new and nontraditional environment for both instructors and learners. Some learners thrive as the driving force in furthering their own knowledge. However, those new to or less familiar with eLearning often rely on the instructor to impart the same level of attention and engagement online as they do in the classroom.
Moodle offers many core component tools that accommodate varying levels of engagement, enabling instructors to provide the consistent communication and clear directive needed to keep learners engaged and learning.
Outside the technological focus in an eLearning environment, the fundamental question remains: how do we best prepare our learners to glean knowledge from the subject at hand? Which methods suit learner retention best, and for which audiences?
Let’s look at a few examples:
1. Creating a communal space
Learning behind a screen lends to many advantages but can at times create what feels like a barrier between the learner and the instructor, leading to a disconnect with the content shared. To avoid this isolative effect, the creation of an open space for people to ask questions or bounce ideas off each other is essential.
Introducing something as simple as a general forum or chat activity for the students to ask questions or engage in dialogue amongst themselves is a great way to prompt communication around the syllabus as well as encourage a more tangible connection between teachers and students in an online space.
There are a bunch of different forum options and strategies that can be utilized in Moodle. For example, the ‘Get to Know Me’ forum can serve as a great icebreaker and get everybody acquainted before a course begins. This gives everyone a chance to connect names to faces and personalize the experience. This leads to our next point…
2. Live Environment Interaction (Webinars)
Some assume that in order to learn, education must be accompanied by the overbearing and daunting dryness of a text. Pure information, zero imagination. While many methods of teaching do not branch out beyond what’s prescribed in the text or syllabus, large numbers of online teachers realize that outside-of-the-box multimedia education is a crucial aspect to engaging their learners.
With added activities such as live webinars and audio recordings, learners can get as close to being in the classroom as possible. Getting to hear the voice and style of an instructor is a wonderful way to directly connect a learner to the material at hand. Including live chats or activities such as polls in the webinar allows the instructor to gain further insight as to where each learner is within their understanding and how much guidance might be needed further down the line, allowing for informed decision-making around learner retention.
3. Bite Sized eLearning Approach
Microlearning is one of the hot trends being discussed in the eLearning world – and for good reason. Microlearning, the delivery of small, laser-focused training assets on just-in-time topics, is being increasingly used by organizations for both formal and informal learning. Easily digestible and requiring less time to complete, microlearning allows learners to quickly acquire and store important ‘nuggets’ of knowledge.
Microlearning helps to reduce the intimidation and burnout that accompanies digesting large or dense doses of complex information. Breaking out a concept into smaller pieces and focusing on the finer pieces one at a time has been proven to help learners digest and retain new material, which helps to avoid learners from being overwhelmed when too much information is being covered at once. Using a phased approach and making use of abbreviations or simple formulas to simplify the more laborious points of a program provide learners with a great advantage when undertaking complex topics. You can find some tips to keep in mind when getting started with microlearning here.
With the multitude of eLearning tools and emerging strategies available in the EdTech space today, there are a plethora of ways to make sure you’re increasing learner engagement and being mindful of activities that can positively affect learner retention. Make use of what makes the most sense for your specific audience and make it flexible so that it can be further adjusted or improved! At the end of the day, ensuring learner retention is all about reaching out and making that human connection to encourage true engagement during the learning process.