Factors Influencing eLearning Engagement

November 30, 2021 Off By admin
Factors Influencing eLearning Engagement

Because engagement often influences the level of motivation eLearners have, in this post, I want to specifically focus on engagement. Student engagement is important for creating meaningful learning experiences and is crucial to the achievement of student goals. Learners need to be actively involved in the learning process to apply prior knowledge and understand new information and constructs. But what is student engagement? The Glossary of Education Reform defines student engagement as it relates to education as the “​​degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that Learners show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education.”

There factors and attributes that affect and influence student engagement are multidimensional. 

This post covers the following areas:

  1. Encourage self-directed Learning
  2. Communication
  3. Course design and structure
  4. Course usefulness and relevance 
  5. Smart choice of tools and technologies 

I have detailed approaches and ideas that you can use to facilitate and influence student engagement in course creation or class instruction.

Encourage self-directed Learning

  1. Make sure Learners are ready to learn. Assess their readiness to learn, assess learning gaps, and make any necessary adjustments that might improve upon their learning potential.
  2. Communication of learning goals between a student and tutor is necessary. Learning contracts are highly recommended tools for successful self-directed learning. A learning contract lists the learning goals and outlines planned activities to achieve these goals. This type of contract should include the timeline for completion of these activities and a plan for tracking progress).
  3. Create manageable learner-centred goals. Help Learners with their goals roadmap. Setting small, easily achievable goals at the beginning helps Learners understand the process of setting and achieving a goal. Following that, they will be better prepared for more complex goals.
  4. Use confidence-boosting techniques, tactics, and communication (e.g., by discussing their strengths or abilities or by creating manageable goals).
  5. Encourage Learners to understand themselves as Learners. This will help you understand their needs as self-directed Learners. It helps if Learners understand their approaches to studying (e.g., are they using a deep approach, surface approach, or strategic approach?).
  6. Give them control over certain aspects of the programme. The ability to control and choose modules, eLearning activities, assignment topics, platforms, or tools that cater to individual learning behaviours and personal preferences can be empowering and motivating. It can also create opportunities for more relevant learning materials..
  7. Incorporate additional resources.

Communication with learners

  1. Introduce a live element—some sorts of live interaction (e.g., chats, webinars, or group work during which Learners have to liaise with their peers increases the Learner’s sense of belonging and helps them overcome feelings of isolation).
  2. Personalise learning to address various factors that impact Learners’ ability to learn (e.g., skills, competencies,  learning styles, age, demographics, cultural background, and the level of education). In communication, this might be, for example, getting to know your Learners and personalising the conversation (this might be difficult if there are hundreds or thousands, but automation can help with personalising learning by capturing names as part of the registration process). Using photos or videos can also make contact more personal.
  3. Use reflective questions to stimulate and challenge Learners.
  4. Cultivate a friendly and positive classroom environment. This should be a place where Learners are free to speak their minds.
  5. Monitor, analyse, and react. (Analytics is not the same thing as assessment. The analysis of student engagement in learning could be used to influence Learners’ success, motivation etc.).

Course design and structure

  1. Use effective graphic design, instructional design, and motivational design—ensuring that best practices are followed. Design factors can improve or discourage Learners from engaging (e.g., is it user-friendly, accessible, logically structured etc.).
  2. Apply both usability design and motivational design together for the best results.

Course usefulness and relevance

  1. Make sure your course content is useful. Make your Learners aware of other uses of the information they’re consuming. Offer real-world examples where the knowledge they’ve just acquired can be applied.
  2. Make your course content relevant. Establish a sense of familiarity between the Learner and the content; use relatable content to stimulate and engage Learners. This can be achieved by offering examples of how the content will be useful in resolving present and future problems that Learners are faced with. 

Smart choice of tools and technologies

Technology impacts Learners’ engagement, motivation, persistence, and participation. It is important to be aware that sometimes  providing additional  or nontraditional options in the learning environment (e.g. flexibility of time or place, collaborative learning opportunities, etc.) can have a negative impact on the learning process. It is important that the use of technologies is well planned. Technology integration must have a purpose for it to be beneficial and produce positive results. Awareness of technological issues also means ensuring accessibility is understood, not only with regard to removing barriers for Learners with disabilities but in a much broader context in which online resources can be accessed regardless of technology or environment (Seale, 2013). Testing the platform and methods that are to be used by both  the tutor and the end-user is necessary.

The role of the tutor, facilitator, and designer is to remove barriers to participation and engagement in online learning experiences by taking the following into consideration:

  • Can tasks be submitted on time?
  • Will this cause demotivation due to poor internet access?
  • Do the webinars make sense if interrupted by technological issues?
  • Can participation be assessed if the group is big and time is short?
  • Will Side chats be distracting?

There are many other factors that directly or indirectly affect and influence Learners’ engagement. Our role as a learning designer or educator is to challenge Learners by creating tasks that leverage creativity, reflection, strategic, and critical thinking skills. Remember that engaged Learners are more motivated to actively participate in the classroom and online activities, so try to give Learners responsibilities and collaborative structures to engage in these tasks with their peers. 

Learners who are engaged in their learning journey are focused, attentive, and motivated to practice critical thinking skills, which promote meaningful learning experiences. 

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