5 Ways to Lower the Barriers Between Your Learners and Learning

5 Ways to Lower the Barriers Between Your Learners and Learning

There are a lot of barriers to getting actual learning done if you’re a modern corporate learner. First, there’s all the overwork and distraction and lack of time in the day to fit it in—all of which has very been well-documented by just about every infographic and article in the last couple of years it seems! (Us too.)

And if a learner does manage to log onto their intranet or LMS for some traditional e-learning, there’s the barrier of an underwhelming user experience. Or a forced learning path which ignores their existing knowledge. Or patronizing ‘forced fun’ gamification that de-motivates instead of encourages. All of which can be drop-out points for learners.

But there are a few barriers that are really easy to knock out of your learners’ way for any type of online or blended learning program. A good first place to start is: clearly communicating what learners are expected to do within a learning program. Put yourself in the learners shoes and imagine their frustration at thinking they’ve completed all the requirements for a week, only to get an email from their manager chastizing them for being behind!

Here are 5 things you need to make sure you communicate to learners:

  • How many hours per week the work is expected to take, or how long the course experience will be open
  • Whether all content is required or only some
  • If you are using points or badges, how to get them, and what they mean
  • What happens if a learner doesn’t meet the expectations of the course
  • Where a learner can go to find out how they’re progressing so far

A couple of real-world examples:

One of our clients handled the “only some content is required” issue by separating required vs. optional content on separate course pages. Another kept all content together so that it made contextual sense, but used a “required ‘flag’” in the title of required items to prompt the learner to not skip those.

Another client ensured that—apart from just telling people once at the beginning of the course how many points and badges they could earn—they also put in reminder notes at the end of every week’s content. This helped learners doublecheck for themselves if they had collected all the points and badges available up until that point.

There are lots of options for “What happens if a learner doesn’t meet the expectations of the course” aside from a simple pass/fail:

One client running a corporate MOOC reduces the points available for a week for those learners who didn’t complete that week in time. This prompts learners to stay more or less in sync with each other. The course admins put reminders of this rule in multiple places in the course experience – in the course overview, in reminder emails, on home page announcements, etc.

The same client had a peer-reviewed project capping off a course that was also counted towards course completion. If a learner kept up with the content, yet failed the final project, they were welcomed to participate in the next run of the class by just doing the project without having to do the course work over again .

The fewer unnescessary barriers there are to learning, the more you can concentrate on truly motivating and engaging employees, instead of just reacting to their frustration and anger arising out of confusion or boredom. Article #3 of the Declaration of Modern Learner Rights is an important one, but it’s also one of the easiest to cross off your list when designing a learning experience.

Manjit Sekhon is Intrepid’s Director of Learning Experience Design

1 Comment

  1. Well said, Manjit! When I run “Voice of the Learner” sessions, I hear them say over and over that they’re looking for what’s expected of them and how long it will take. Until those questions are answered, they’re not ready to think about learning something new.