Five Engagement Strategies that make learning stick

By – Sucheta. Phadke – Chief Learning Strategist

All through these years I have reviewed a lot of content and training material. Content which looks plain, that which looks gorgeous, glamorous, the one which uses the best of technology, 3D animations, and has the best subject knowledge.

Out of this plethora of learning content being created, just a few examples stand out. Learners truly engage, participate, enjoy learning, and remember what they have learnt for a long time with this content.

What makes this learning sticky and durable?

Here are five key strategies that bring in the engagement.

1. Understand your learners

Listening to your learners, understanding their needs, their pain points, their attitude to learning is critical for design. When the learner is at the center of any design, learning becomes an experience and well-designed experiences can be memorable, durable, and transformational. Conducting a needs analysis, creating learner personas and empathy maps is at the core of making learning engaging.

2. Curriculum approach matters

Training is a solution for upskilling, growing, and expansion in many ways. Make it interesting by crafting a curriculum which focusses on performance rather than making it information and knowledge centric.
When the focus shifts to performance and doing, the activities and design of the program shifts completely. Learners are no longer just passive listeners or users they become active participants. Once learners start participating in the process, engagement follows.

3. Bring in the context

Context creates relevance and relevance engages the brain. Bring in the context by using real life scenarios. Master the art of storytelling, create engaging scenario games, share stories of success and failure. Use conversations in daily life to connect with your learners. Another strategy that works very well is correlation. Create the context in the form of a theme (e.g. adventure, journey, treasure hunt, framework) and get the brain to correlate it with what is being learnt. Use appropriate visuals and make the experience come to life. Making these connections builds a context for learning, engages the brain, and helps in retrieval later.

4. Opportunities for Peer and Group Learning

A variety of activities can be done with peer and group learning. Leaving them unstructured may not make the impact. The deliberate design of these activities involves the learners, creates partnerships which can connect individuals and make way for deep learning and engagement. Using collaborative and cooperative learning strategies in groups for problem solving, learning partnerships, learning pods, masterminds, makes way for highly engaging learning experiences. The creativity is about using techniques that can be used in an online environment as well as in a face-to-face facilitator led intervention

5. Design failure to make learning stick

The general perspective while designing learning, whether they are activities, challenges, projects or even assessments is to make things largely easy. The fact is that making things easy does not challenge the brain to learn. Deep learning or learning that sticks is a result of making mistakes, reflecting on what went wrong, making efforts to find solutions, and learning with trial and error. When challenges are hard, we start thinking and slow down, thus activating what Kahnemann calls System Two thinking. Slow thinking helps us make better connections and thus we learn better.

Learn all about making learning stick in our Certificate Course in Learning Experience Design