Online Learning Challenges: How to Overcome Disengaged Learners

Designing Digitally


Online Learning Challenges: How to Overcome Disengaged Learners

In our recent article, we defined what learner engagement is. Now, let’s explore how to overcome the challenges that can be seen with disengagement in an online learning environment and how to overcome them.

Engaged learners thrive when employers provide an engaging learning environment, valuable course content, and inspiring workplace culture. They must connect cognitively, emotionally, and socially with the training course which will, in turn, change their behavior towards continuous learning. But, what happens when you encounter disengaged employee learners? How can you solve this problem in a way that dramatically increases learner engagement in online learning?

The most effective solution is prevention. Before starting the development process for your training course, identify what issues might arise in the process. Ask questions, schedule meetings, research your company's existing learning culture, and determine what your employees need to learn, want to learn, and how best to offer them new information.

If your employees are not engaged with their training programs, there may be underlying reasons that were missed during the research and planning stages. Determining what these reasons are can help when restructuring the material to focus learner engagement. If you observe the following behaviors in your learners, they could be signs your learners are not engaged.

  • - Low or no interaction with the course.Learners are not asking questions, do not use the social learning channels available, and show low participation rates.

  • - A lack of clear direction. They are unable to explain why they are taking the course and what they hope to gain from it.

  • - Getting distracted and lacking deep focus. Balancing work and learning is often challenging, so learners could be superficial in understanding the course material.

  • - Performing poorly. Low grades, absences, and consistent failure to hand in completed assignments directly result in poor performance.

  • - Negative paradigms about learning. This is not something that you can control, but if you foster learner engagement, you can overcome it.

  • - Prior experience bias. Learners might have had negative experiences with learning in the past and this might thwart their dedication.

Learning Obstacles

All students encounter learning obstacles at some point. Obstacles can stem from the students themselves, the learning environment, and/or the course you are teaching.

Most self-imposed obstacles result from learner mentalities, past experiences, and personal insecurities. How the participants view continuous learning is paramount as this will set the stage for success or failure. Although it is difficult to curb pre-existing mentalities, you can influence learners to trust themselves and the course by creating an engaging and exciting learning environment in the workplace. These workplace learning obstacles are an element you can control. Determining obstacles in advance is the first step towards successful employee training program implementation.

Workplace Learning Enablers

Building a Community

If learners feel that the workplace culture encourages learning, they are more likely to engage in and successfully complete training modules. Building a community in which learners can better succeed is important. Below are some ways that you can help establish such a community.

Give Learners a Purpose

Making sure that learners know the desired learning outcomes will help solidify their resolve to become actively involved in their learning curve.

Remove Distractions

Ensure that you’ve allocated time specifically for learning. Employee learners need to focus on the training and not worry about the work tasks that await upon course completion.

Read also: The Importance of Learner Engagement in Online Training and How it Benefits Your Company

Offer Technical Training

While much of your workforce may be from a younger generation, it’s likely that not everybody will not be tech-savvy. Providing training to close that skill gap for those who need it will be beneficial.

Incorporate Social Learning

Include discussion forums, friendly competitions, and other social learning devices that your learners can use to enhance newly acquired knowledge and skills. This type of social interaction has proven effective for learner engagement.

Market the Course

If employees don't know anything about the course, they might be apprehensive about enrolling. Make sure you allow ample time between the presentation of the course and deployment to help prospective learners get used to the idea of advancing their learning.

Build Learner-Centric Training Programs

This is where research and planning make a big difference. If you know your employees’ strengths and weaknesses, learning objectives, and learning styles, you can create a course with which they will strongly identify. Know your audience and cater to them.

Consider Employees’ Individual Learning Styles

Identify existing learning styles and survey your workforce to see what training delivery might work best. More often than not, blended learning is the best option.

Keep it Relevant

It's better to have a brief, substantive course than a long course full of irrelevant information. Be sure to make each module highly relevant to what learners expect to study.

Allow for On-Demand Training

Employee training should not feel like a chore. The moment it does, engagement diminishes. Prepare your course to function across various platforms and allow for both synchronous and asynchronous learning.

The Impact of Disengaged Online Learners

Disengaged learners often fail to benefit from a course and can waste a lot of time and investment. Courses that fail to engage learners can result in higher turnover rates, lower job satisfaction, and other negative effects.

To ensure you can overcome the common barriers faced in online learning that can lead to disengagement, and to learn the best ways to create effective training courses that spark excitement in your workforce, download the full eBook today!