Learning and engagements have undoubtedly changed over the past few years – even more so during COVID-19. Schools, universities, and even businesses across the globe have drastically changed the way they interact and operate.
In this blog, we explore how e-Learning has changed and how to move forward in an online environment. We find out exactly what makes online engagements valuable and how to increase interactions toward sustainable learning.
The Explosion of the E-Learning Market
Since COVID-19 started, the world as we know it has vanished and we had to make do with the online environment. This has inevitably created a market explosion for online interactive platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Google Meet, etc.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that the Global Education Technology Market is expected to grow at a CAGR 13.33%. This means that by 2027, this market will be worth approximately USD435.6 billion, according to Credence Research Analysis. When you look at regional statistics, Singaporean parents are willing to spend approximately USD71,000 p.a. on their children’s education – that is TWICE the global average.
Furthermore, based on Technology, the e-Learning market is the highest revenue contributing segment, accounting for nearly 50% of the total market revenue generated worldwide. This compared to traditional learning methods. But why is this segment so popular?
The answer? TECHNOLOGY.
Due to the ever-escalating adoption of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and computers, the world has made a shift from commuting to work, to the most convenient, effective, and affordable environment – ONLINE learning.
Source: CNBC, 18 Sep 2016
Shivanu Shukla, CEO and Co-Founder of Teamie, states that in the early days of e-learning, everything was limited to simply obtaining online content such as textbooks, study materials, etc. Now, however, edtech has grown to the extent where students have access to more learning methods, including:
- Learning Data Analysis
- Social Learning
- Personalised Learning Solutions
These inevitably help your participants learn more efficiently.
Or does it…?
How COVID-19 Changed the World
According to statistics from TrustRadius, there are ten main online conferencing platforms that have not only taken over the way we learn, but influenced the markets too. Based on statistics from April 1st, 2020, Zoom has completely taken over the way we learn and communicate. When we look at the stock markets, Zoom reached a peak on March 23rd, 2020, at USD159.56.
Looking at life in general and how COVID-19 influenced the world, we’re now training, learning, socializing, and conferencing online. It’s safe to say that online conferencing has become the “new normal” in most parts of our lives!
This might not be the worst occurrence for businesses who can work online. After all, we all knew the world was going to experience a technological revolution sooner or later – minus the flying cars and inter-galactic travel (which is also evolving, mind you).
The main cause for concern is the future of humanity, A.K.A. professionals and young adults. Is e-Learning the best option? How do we know that people are getting sustainable, engaging, and effective education through e-Learning?
Truth be told, the world hasn’t necessarily been experiencing this phenomenon entirely before COVID-19 and we can’t necessarily get statistics and valuable data while it’s being experimented with.
Fortunately, that’s not where the conversation ends. Instead of waiting for the statistics to speak for themselves, how can we improve and enhance current experiences and potential outcomes?
If we look at changeable situations, we can’t determine much in terms of long-term events, but we can optimise current experiences in projection of future outcomes.
What does that mean? Read on to find out!
What is Missing in Education Technology?
When we look at e-Learning as almost “unchartered territory” in a holistic sense, there are a few questions before answers. It’s well-known that the world nowadays is much more “technologically proficient” at a younger age as opposed to the older generations. As we progress into the world of e-Learning, these are the questions we generally need to ask and, later, answer:
• What was missing in traditional education?
• What is currently missing in online education?
• Was traditional learning engaging and interactive?
• Is e-Learning currently engaging and interactive?
• Is e-Learning learner-centric or instructor-centric?
• Should e-Learning be fun, engaging, and interactive?
When we discuss e-Learning as opposed to traditional methods, there are certain factors that are undoubtedly missing, including:
• Connection between peers and instructors
• Meaningful collaboration tools
• Interaction and hearing the mentees’ voices
• Face-to-face social and educational engagement
• The fun factor
Educators, students, and even professionals may have quite a few more points to highlight on what is missing from e-Learning, but the principle on what all the concerns are based upon, is engagement.
How do we successfully add engagement, interaction, and fun into e-Learning?
The Definition of Learning Engagement
"Learner engagement is a measure that reflects the quantity and quality of a learner’s participation in their courses and every other aspect of their educational program. Also, it echoes a learner’s interaction and cooperation with co-learners and instructors. In other words, learner engagement is the measure of a potentially successful learning experience for everyone concerned."
What does this mean? In simple terms, if a person is interested and motivated by the education he/she is receiving, they will ENGAGE in the lesson. If a person is engaged in the learning experience, then the process can be deemed successful.
But, how would you measure that as an educator? How do you know whether the audience is engaged on a cognitive level?
According to www.talentlms.com, a person’s engagement toward training is determined by their performance, the amount of time spent on training, and the amount of information they can relay in practical terms.
For example: You’re an instructor who just implemented e-Training with approximately twenty trainees joining your sessions. Let’s say you’ve given a three-hour lecture on any given topic. For argument’s sake, let’s say 20% of attendees know exactly what you’re talking about, 20% are still processing the information, and 10% are busy figuring it out for themselves. The other 50% have absolutely no idea what you were just talking about.
Instead of ending the session “saved by the bell”, there are several tools you can use before, during, and after the session to not only include each participant, but to ensure they’re all on the same page too. This is done through three key factors: interaction, engagement, and fun.
So, how do you know you’ve accomplished 100% participant engagement?
What an Engaged Participant Looks Like
Instructors and students can analyse certain factors to see if they’ve accomplished learner engagement:
When you notice a learner actually participates in the session, that’s when you know you’re one step closer to achieving learner engagement. When learners participate, they actively engage in Q&As, nod their heads, and partake in conversation.
Being motivated doesn’t only relate to attentiveness during the lesson, but also after. They’re excited to learn more after the lesson and even feel a sense of accomplishment in understanding a subject.
3. Willing to Put in the Effort
This is relevant both during and after the lesson. If they’re willing to put in the effort of noting questions, answers, and general discussions, they’re definitely engaged in the lesson.
How to Enforce Engagement
There are certain factors you can implement into your lessons to encourage learner engagement – which we’ll get to in a moment. But first…
What are the basic psychological factors you can trigger to get learners to engage?
There are three facets to triggering cognitive engagement: First, you need to learn and know what is going on in their minds. What do they understand from the topic being discussed? Do they have any innovative ideas to contribute? You can do this through random pick engagements where you communicate with certain participants picked at random. The power in that is that they’re almost “forced” or “motivated” to pay attention knowing they might be picked for discussion.
Secondly, promote social interaction. There’s incredible power in learning from others, and though they might not all understand the topic, they do sometimes ask questions and even explain a topic in a manner which others understand better.
Finally, predict the experience they’re having using the aforementioned tactics. As you’re watching them interact as a group, you’ll automatically be able to determine or predict the lesson outcome.
It’s a well-known fact that most humans react and interact through emotions. When you bring up a subject related to the topic that can trigger the learners’ emotions, you’re already giving them something to relate to the topic. Doing this will help them not only remember the topic, but understand it on an emotional level as well.
It is somewhat of a stigma that learners’ and employees’ behaviours are their own responsibility. Instructors often believe that after everything is said and done, the rest is up to the student. That is not always the case. In fact, the behaviour of the participant toward the lesson is almost entirely up to the instructor. If you as the instructor or educator is giving a lesson, it’s important to explore the participants’ behaviours toward the subject and the lesson.
All these aspects can be approached and implemented without the attendees even realising it! That is why this section is about the psychological aspect.
Hacks to Increase Online Engagement
In this section, we explore three easy steps to promote online engagement. This is relevant for instructors and professionals who want to increase overall engagement with their audience.
1. Consider Duration
• Implement short, purposeful sessions
• Manage your discussion sessions
• Use concise, unambiguous forms of communications
2. Clarify Intentions
• Set clear learning outcomes at every session
• Contextualise to real-world applications
• Set clear expectations and housekeeping rules for the learners
3. Change it Up
• Create opportunities to explore and challenge your students
• Provide frequent positive reinforcement
• Create multiple checkpoints of feedback and clarifications
These steps can be implemented and planned even before the session starts. Consider the fact that the duration is not just about the time you’re in a session, but about the volume of work you’re giving the participants too. For example: Try using bullet points and elaborating on the topics in relatable ways instead of pushing too much information and overwhelming the participants.
Clarify your intentions with the lesson. Are you going to cover one topic, or is the lesson going to cover multiple topics? Furthermore, be sure to make the information relatable to real-world occurrences. For example: Don’t simply tell participants about accounting; explain to them how accounting would work in YOUR business environment.
Lastly, it’s well-known that people get bored and demotivated quite easily. Ensure you challenge them and provide positive reinforcement throughout your sessions so that they stay interested in the lesson. Ask questions, answer questions, and interact with them on different levels to keep their interest in the subject matter.
To conclude all the topics we’ve discussed, the main objective in this era of establishing a “new normal”, especially in these trying times, is to ensure engagement and interaction takes place.
Brydan Group has a four-part series on enhancing online engagement in learning and development where we further investigate these tools. The Videos are available on our Facebook Page. The four-part series includes:
Tools, tips, and techniques to increase online engagement.
2. The Art of Balancing
Finding the balance between content and conversation and unde