The Six Types of Learner Egagement

Designing Digitally


An Introduction to Learner Engagement

Learner engagement is one of the oldest issues that educators and course designers struggle with because conditions for achieving engagement are constantly changing. 

In the age of information and technology, competition for attention and engagement is increasingly fierce. People hardly have the time and patience to sit through a three-hour movie, let alone a three-hour training course. As technology progresses, our engagement wanes as competition for our attention grows with technology.

Engaging employees during learning is an ongoing challenge. Effective engagement often hinges on how invested an employee is in the success of the business. To achieve that investment, employees should feel appreciated and satisfied in their work environment. Since people have different expectations and methods for satisfaction and appreciation, it can be difficult to achieve universal success in this endeavor. Nevertheless, engaging learners in continuing education is an essential step towards the growth and development of any organization. An engaged employee actively invests in their job, loves what they do, and contributes happily to the company’s overall well-being.

To engage a learner, they must be focused. Their brain needs to operate in a particular state of mind that fully immerses them in performing. As a result, engaged learners are typically focused, involved, and enjoy the learning process.

You may be wondering, what exactly is learner engagement, and why does it matter for your business? That’s what we hope to explore with you!

What Is Learner Engagement?

Learner engagement refers to how actively involved and immersed learners are with the course they are taking. For the course to be successful, everyone involved must be engaged. This means that there is interaction, cooperation, and consensus among participants and trainers. The result is a user experience that is useful and intellectually satisfying.

The Six Types of Engagement

Traditionally, learner engagement can be divided into six types. In an online training environment, not all types will be applicable, but each has value. The user’s experience defines every kind of engagement.


Cognitive or intellectual engagement concerns each student’s interest and curiosity in the course topics. To inspire interest and curiosity in the learner, the trainer needs to structure their modules flexibly and accommodating. Not everyone learns in the same way, so allowing learners the freedom to investigate and present topics of personal interest in their practice will encourage engagement.


The emotional component of learning is largely overlooked in the corporate business world and education, but fortunately, this is changing. More and more organizations realize that imbuing an emotional charge into their training strategies can help learners become and remain engaged with the course content. Creating a sense of community for online learners is one technique used by trainers and instructional designers to augment/ increase emotional engagement.


Employee learner engagement in a particular task, the effort applied to finishing the task, and their ability to follow instruction are all Behavioral Engagement components. A good trainer or Instructional Designer (ID) needs to consider Behavioral Engagement in order to inspire long-term immersion in the course.


The internet and social media channels have redefined social engagement. From an online education perspective, social engagement refers to the various ways learners can interact with each other, the trainers, and the course material. Through collaborative work, friendly competition, and gamification elements, IDs and trainers can boost social engagement between online learners.


Physical engagement refers to engaging the learner in kinetic activity, such as exercise or stretching. This is much easier to achieve in a classroom setting, but with a bit of creativity can be completed online as well, especially with the increasing popularity of Virtual Reality (VR) Simulations.


In an online training course, cultural engagement often refers to the Learning and Development (L&D) culture within your organization. Workplace culture is conducive to increased engagement among staff members. This helps the online course trainer and developer create a training module that reflects your company’s specific cultural interactions.


Now that you know what learner engagement is and the different types, dive deeper into this subject by downloading the full eBook to decode the following topics:

॰ Learner engagement in a corporate training environment

॰ Why learner engagement is vital in online training

॰ Benefits of learner engagement for businesses

॰ The hinders of online learner engagement

॰ Online learner engagement methodology

॰ Improving engagement through customization

If you are ready to speak to an expert to determine the best ways to increase learner engagement for your employees, contact a Designing Digitally team member today!

Please note this article was updated by our team on 08/03/2021.