Remember back to your high school or college days. Which class were you most excited to go to: the required course or the elective?
Your answer is probably the elective course. Why? Because it was something you picked versus something that someone else made you take. And it probably wasn’t offered every semester. It was a special treat, and probably more hands on and not as packed as your required courses. (cue flashback to the 500-person lecture).
When it comes to education, there will constantly be a debate around what and when training should be required. By making training required, you are guaranteed to have seats filled. The downside is when that label is slapped onto a course, you immediately lose participant engagement. The learner isn’t making the decision to be there and they could be less accountable, doing the bare minimum to get by.
On the flipside, if you make training elective, those in attendance want to be there and most likely will participate willingly. But it’s riskier – will you have enough people enrolled to offset the cost of training? If not, you’ll have to cancel it and let down those eager learners.
Here are three tricks to help solve this age-old conundrum:
- Sell, sell, sell. Training should be “sold” to the participants with benefits-driven messaging. How are you marketing the course? What promotional channels are you using? Is the message reaching your target audience? Audience segmentation, repeatable messages, and A/B testing are marketing tactics you can use to increase response rates and enrollment. And don’t forget the power of testimonials. Start collecting success stories and participant feedback to prove the value of the course.
- When it doubt, cut it out. Just like the kids in the backseat of a long car ride, most learners attend a class immediately wondering, “Are we there yet?” Studies show that the adult attention span is getting shorter.When designing training, make sure to have clear learning objectives. Then look for ways to shorten the content. Leverage micro-learning whenever possible as a way to meet your participant’s attention needs. The last thing you want is word to spread that the course was long and boring.
- Use the (re-en)-force. Marking a training ‘required’ still works to get butts in seats but there may be other ways to show importance. You can use both positive and negative reinforcement methods to increase engagement. In online trainings, awarding digital badges upon course completion or displaying leaderboards with participant engagement levels are both ways to socially motivate the masses to not only attend, but engage.
At the end of the day, you want to offer the best, most appropriate training for your audience and you want to be sure that the time and effort you’ve put into designing the awesome content doesn’t fall on deaf ears.
What methods are working for you? How are you increasing engagement levels for required courses? Share your experiences in the comments!