Making E Learning More Engaging

12th September 2018

Martec offers both e-learning and instructor-led training in retail industry knowledge, retail skills and related topics. One of the comments we get all the time from our clients is that e-learning is not very engaging and students always prefer instructor-led classes.

This may be true and there are a lot of articles on the Internet from other training experts with suggestions on how to make the e-learning content and the instructional design more engaging. I’m not going to repeat this here. I’m going to address some other ideas that we use at Martec (in addition to the good ideas that others espouse).

Our favourite option is the Friday lunch and learn. (It doesn’t need to be Friday and it doesn’t need to involve lunch).

Let’s assume there are 6 modules in the class. We split the audience into groups of about 15 each. Each group studies to a set schedule. So in week one a group studies lesson 1 between Monday and Thursday, say. In that time they can email any questions on things they are not clear about or how they might apply the knowledge to their job or product category, etc. to our training desk. Our team collates their questions.

On the Friday, we host a one hour web meeting for the group with a live instructor who is also a subject matter expert using GoToMeeting or a similar service. Prior to the live session, the instructor reviews the test scores for this week’s lesson in the learning management system, to see how well people coped and to get any insight about areas where they might have had difficulty. The instructor then looks at the pre-submitted questions and prepares his or her answers. This might involve developing a slide or two if the answer is not easy to explain.

The live instructor then runs the following standard agenda:

  1. Reviews and recaps the critical points from this week’s lesson
  2. Reviews the pre-submitted questions and explains the answers.
  3. Invites ad hoc questions from the group, so that they can ask their questions, even if they didn’t have time to submit them in advance.
  4. Give a “heads up” for next week’s lesson explaining key things to look out for.

This format then repeats for each module of the program.

In addition, on some sessions the instructor will run a live exercise with participants, e.g. in a week when a topic like Open to Buy is covered, which merits deeper discussion.

These sessions are recorded and posted on the Learning Management System so that any participant missing a live session can listen to the recording later.

This approach achieves several things:

  • It brings more engagement and participation to the training.
  • Everybody knows that we and you know if anyone is missing or hasn’t completed that week’s lesson, so it makes sure that everyone participates fully and gets the most from the investment.
  • You can arrange for a manager to drop in on the sessions occasionally without notice to encourage everyone to show up and a manager can kick off the first session.

As no-one knows when the boss will join in everyone turns up except in exceptional circumstances. Occasionally the boss logs on at the start of another session, asks an early question and quietly logs off. The students cannot see that he or she has logged off, so it has a good motivating effect.

Another technique we use is “Ask the Expert”. We include an “Ask the Expert” link in our classes. If a student is not clear about any of the content or wants advice on how to use it in a given situation, he or she can type in a request, click submit and it is automatically emailed to our support desk. A colleague then issues the question to the most appropriate expert. Our expert then replies individually via email and these can be placed on a bulletin board if they are worthy of sharing.

The first one was not our idea. We stole it from a client once we heard about it and it has been very beneficial for clients who have taken advantage of it. This approach is especially good if your content is more complex material as a lot of ours is.

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More articles on Retail and Consumer Goods Skills Training can be found here.

If you would like to know more about the classes we offer, please go to our e-learning portal .

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