blog header 7 Learner Engagement Strategies for Your Online Course


7 Learner Engagement Strategies for Your Online Course

June 15, 2021 | 8 Min Read

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Remember what life was like in a 5th grade classroom?

You — or maybe your classmates — were constantly whispering to a friend, discreetly passing a note under your desk, or maybe even trying to sneak in a bite of your snack before recess.


You — or, again, your classmates — weren’t engaged.

Student engagement is an enormous challenge for school teachers. Unfortunately, things don’t get much better when working with adult learners — and this especially rings true in the world of eLearning.

In fact, learner engagement is among the greatest challenges course creators and administrators face when delivering online training.

Luckily, there are a number of strategies that can be put into action on an online course platform to ensure you overcome this obstacle and encourage learner motivation.

Let’s dive into 7 learner engagement strategies that are sure to take any online course from monotonous training to captivating and informative learning experience.


What Learner Engagement Is — And Why It’s Important

So we’ve identified learner engagement as a major concern for those who create and administer online courses.

But what exactly is learner engagement?

Learner engagement can be defined as the quality and quantity of your learner’s interactions and participation in his/her training.

Engaged learners are:

  • Active learners who comprehend, retain, and make connections with new information
  • Motivated learners
  • Intrigued learners
  • Learners who understand not only the “what,” but the “why” behind their training

You see, it’s not enough for course takers to read through slides upon slides, watch a few videos, and do a final comprehension check.

Learners need to complete assignments on time, producing quality results across all quizzes and exams, and actively participating in any community discussions or seminars that may be a part of your course.

Otherwise, you’ll be left with courses full of, well, unengaged learners.

Unengaged learners are:

  • Passive learners who memorize information for short-term results (usually unsuccessfully)
  • Unmotivated learners
  • Disinterested learners
  • Learners who fail to see the value or purpose of their training

blog chart engaged vs unengaged learners

We’ve now defined and described what it means to be an engaged learner. But how do we get there?


Learner Engagement Strategies

1. Set Clear, Achievable, and Measurable Learning Objectives

If you want a fully engaged learner, it all starts with defining the purpose of your online course. Course-takers need to understand why they are being trained and what the end result should be.

To do that, It’s important to first identify your audience. Then, go ahead and determine what will be expected of them upon the completion of your course.

Will they be required to recite 80% of your company’s compliance principles after completing an 8-hour course?

Increase productivity by 50% and apply learned methods?

Close 5 more sales in the month following their 10-hour training?

As you can see, learning objectives must be clear, achievable, and measurable. This is crucial, as it creates a benchmark for learners to reference during their training. 

Bonus Tip! Setting clear learning objectives can help course creators and administrators as well! Once you’ve determined what you want your learners to achieve, you can organize and present your course material in the most effective way possible.


2. Create Interactive Content

What better way to boost learner engagement than to have them actively participate in their eLearning?

Interactive content is a key element of all self-paced online courses and is without a doubt one of the most powerful strategies in eLearning today.

When used correctly, interactive content can keep your learner’s in the cycle of learning, comprehending, and advancing. This maximizes user concentration and keeps them on the edge of their seats. 

Hungarian-American Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined the term “Flow Theory” to describe this state of learning. When your course material is neither too easy nor too difficult — and constantly engaging your learners with interactive elements — they will experience peak engagement.

blog Flow Theory Graph
Without interactive content, learners will passively slog through your course — one sentence, paragraph, and click at a time. With nothing to keep them engaged, who can blame them?

But did you know there are many forms of interactive content beyond just your standard assignments, quizzes, and exams?

Interactive content can also come in the form of:

    • Recurring comprehension checks with H5P - drag and drop and sorting activities, memory games, flash cards with accompanying audio clips, interactive video, + much more
    • Branched scenarios - based on a learner’s response to a question, you have the ability to redirect them to a more advanced or remedial resource.
  • Image hotspots - when clicked, can reveal texts, images, or videos
  • Seminars/webinars - if offering a blended learning course, online seminars allow you to survey and quiz your learners.
  • Forums - these give learners the opportunity to engage with each other. Share ideas, overcome challenges, and participate in group discussions.

You don’t want your course to be a one-way effort and passive learning experience. Add interactive content to ensure your learners are fully-engaged and involved in their training.


3. Use Gamification

If you’re looking to leverage your learners’ competitive nature, look no further than gamification.

Gamification is the use of game mechanics and concepts — such as point scoring, levels, and leaderboards — in other activities or educational programs. 

Gamification has become incredibly popular among L&D professionals and trainees alike. In fact, 90% of employees are more productive when gamification is used. In addition, the use of game-based motivation increases learner engagement by 48%.


With an online learning platform such as Lambda Suite, the use of gamification badges can motivate learning by rewarding learners for their efforts. Badges symbolize the achievements of hard-working learners — and these learners will appreciate being recognized for their efforts.

While the use of gamification alone is not enough to keep learners fully engaged, it’s a powerful feature that is sure to boost engagement.

[WATCH NOW] Gamification 101 – What It Is and How to Get Started?


4. Individualize Programming 

Most companies use generic, one-size-fits-all training courses to onboard, train, or up-skill their employees.

And that’s a problem.

You see, generic training programs fail to identify individual strengths, weaknesses, and previously-acquired skills. This can lead to a training experience that’s limiting and unengaging.

For example, a trainee who is forced to complete extensive training on a topic they’ve already mastered is going to fail to see the benefit of completing their coursework.

By using adaptive learning in your LMS you can customize each learner’s experience by:

  • Choosing the format in which content is presented
  • Modifying the level of difficulty
  • Assessing learners’ behaviours and test results
  • Adjusting the pace of each learner’s program

By individualizing your learners’ programs with adaptive learning you can ensure your content is being delivered in the most effective way possible — and keeping your learners engaged in the process.


5. Analyze Learner Behaviour

Tracking your learning analytics can provide you with some invaluable data — data that can be used to make major improvements to learner engagement.

Analytics can tell you:

  • The results of an assessment, exam, or practice test
  • The number of attempts needed to complete an assessment, quiz, or test
  • The time spent on a course or activity
  • Overall progress
  • How users feel about your programs

This is some seriously powerful stuff!

By examining your engagement analytics, you may discover some learners are skipping through a video and registering poor quiz results as a result. 

You may also notice learners are consistently getting hung up on the same three test questions.

Perhaps one of your activities is taking much longer to complete than you had anticipated, while your latest course is getting loads of views.

In any case, engagement analytics can provide profound insights you can use to improve your online course and boost engagement.

Did you know our all-in-one eLearning solution, Lambda Suite, has an award-winning  analytics and reporting feature?  Click here to learn more! 


6. Keep Modules Short 

No matter what your day entails, you probably have that one item on your to-do list that you absolutely dread. 

It’s probably a bigger, more time consuming task — and you may start to feel anxious just thinking about it.

Well, your learners are no different. 

When lessons are extensive and time-consuming, it’s easy to understand why a learner would be hesitant to sit down, roll up his/her sleeves, and commit to hours of training. 

According to Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve, people should be expected to retain 50% of knowledge after one day, and just 10% of what has been learned after a week.

Forgetting Curve - Sticky LearningGraph: A typical forgetting curve. Repeated conscious renewal of information is an effective retention strategy. [Wikipedia Commons, Public domain].

That’s why shorter mini-lessons, often referred to as microlearning, is such a popular choice among course creators and takers. With concise, targeted objectives, learners are much more likely to retain the information learned.

With microlearning, you can offer small, bite-sized lessons that get straight to the point. This gives learners the easily digestible and exact information they need, when they need it.

Here are some of the main benefits of microlearning:

  • Learners don’t need to sift through information to pinpoint the main ideas presented
  • Training can feel much more approachable when learners realize they can quickly achieve learning objectives
  • Lessons can be completed in minutes, eliminating the need to schedule long training sessions that eat into your learners’ workdays.
  • Answers to specific questions can be found immediately

Microlearning can be presented in a variety of ways on an online course platform. An eye-catching infographic, an animated tutorial, or a FAQ section could do the trick. Or perhaps you’d like to create an easy-to-navigate, organized menu of focused topics. 

Quite simply, keeping content short and hyper-focused helps to engage your learners and make training feel less intimidating and much more accessible.

[BLOG] More on Microlearning: What, Why, How, Where, and When?


7. Use Notifications

While some of your learners may be the ultra-organized type, you’ll inevitably have some who will need a reminder or two to complete a lesson or submit an assignment.

Notifications are a great way to not only keep learners on top of their coursework, but remain constantly engaged with your material.

Notification can be used for the following:

  • Booking confirmation for a training session
  • A reminder to complete an assignment by a specified date
  • A notification about a forum discussion
  • Feedback is ready to be viewed
  • An assignment has been graded

By tweaking their notification settings, learners decide how and how often they receive important messages from course administrators — depending on the options enabled by administrators.


Now you’re ready to create an online course that will fully engage your learners or employees. By implementing the strategies listed above, you can ensure your training efforts aren’t attempted in vain. 

Interactive and individualized courses with clear learning objectives and easily digestible content will lead to satisfied, motivated, and engaged learners.

Now that you know the strategies to creating effective eLearning or training courses, learn more about how your organization can use Lambda Suite to deliver engaging courses!

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