Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Challenge and Promise of Engagement in E-Learning--Part I

The term "engagement" has become somewhat of a buzz word in the halls of the corporate and education world alike. However, underlying this term is a deep seated feeling of uneasiness in these same halls as a  new realization is dawning on them. This very troubling realization is that without employees or learners who are engaged in pursuing skill sets necessary to deep seated learning and ultimately innovation within their organizations, they will forfeit their place in the global economy, develop a disconnect with new clients and past ones and become an anachronistic oddity in a digital age.


Human Nature and Engagement 

We know that in a fast paced world, becoming engaged in something is time consuming and is resource depleting. There are many distractions in the world both in the real world and online that promise escapes in the form of entertainment and leisure which in fact act as pressure release valves for humans. It is a natural drive that humans have that acts as a defense mechanism and it strives to achieve balance in life. It is however possible for this drive to go into overdrive where to be entertained has a much greater priority than to be productive. It is at this point that society employs social pressure to change the behaviour that results.

In order to counter this natural inclination that humans have, we need to understand what human beings find engaging. The following are some observations that deal with the first of a number of essentials.



Focus :  "For the learner, the engagement must be on a personal level!"  

Our present status as a learner possessing knowledge and skill sets is a deeply personal element of our being. Based upon its present state, we are judged by others and more importantly, we measure ourselves against our own personal goals.
This is an important understanding that all Instructional Designers, Corporate Trainers, Instructors, CEOs and COO's should fully grasp as we go about designing irresistibly engaging learning experiences. When we think about the needs of the learner, it is not just on one level and we make a fatal mistake if our learning experiences treat learners as machines who need to only point and click on a piece of technology.

For the learner, a number of questions need answering if we expect solid engagement by the individual or individuals:

  • Since this is personal, is this learning experience relevant to me as a person, employee or student? What is the "personal ROI" that I can expect by engaging in this?
  • Will my engagement in these learning experiences contribute to the solution to real world problems relating to my role in a way that respects my contributions or are they simply mechanically contrived mind games that allow administration to check off one more box on a sheet of boxes?
  • Will my engagement in these learning experiences strengthen and build new personal connections to networks in which I can collaborate and grow in?
  • Will my engagement enhance my learning and will my organization mentor and encourage my learning growth in a positive, personal way instead of in an organizational mass action manner?
  • Am I personally invested in the mission of this organization? Does its vision match my personal vision for growth?

Engagement besides being very personal is also dependent upon the design and method of delivery. For the learner, the design thinking that goes into irresistibly engaging learning experiences is the "ground zero for engagement". This requires leadership that has passion and vision as drivers.

Next....The Nature of Irresistible Engaging Learning Experiences---Ground Zero!


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