Online courses are not a novelty anymore. With so much desire to learn and many opportunities, having learners enrolled in your course is not enough. Course creators need to realize that every learner is unique and experiences learning differently. It’s when your job as a course creator truly begins.
The next step is to find ways to keep learners on track, ensure they complete your course, and reach their learning goals. However, it’s easier said than done. To find the right solutions, you must understand your learners’ needs and act proactively. The most common reasons why learners drop out are:
- Learners can’t see the finality of their learning experience;
- Learners find it challenging to stay motivated;
- Learners don’t like irrelevant or complicated content;
- Learners lack the support of the instructors;
- Learners feel the lack of human interaction;
- Learners don’t consider the learning platform intuitive or mobile-friendly.
However, for every problem, there is a solution.
7 Learner retention strategies that work
Online courses have the advantage of already motivated learners. When they enroll in your course, learners are driven by personal reasons and objectives. Nonetheless, it’s up to you to keep their motivation levels high throughout the course.
Here are seven strategies to increase learner retention rates that actually work:
1. Begin with “why”
You make a promise to your learners through your course. That’s why they enroll in the first place: to achieve their “why.” However, after the course begins, they face the learning routine and dive into all the content you provide, which might make them lose sight of why they started in the first place.
And this is where you come in — to help learners envision the meaning behind the learning process, not just in terms of knowledge, but, more importantly, in terms of a higher purpose.
For instance, at the end of a personal development course, learners will know the steps towards a life without guilt, but also they will manage to live the life they crave with the ability to say “no” and put themselves first.
When things are complicated and the pressure is taking its toll, keep reminding your learners why they shouldn’t give up. By empathizing with your learners, you can help them achieve the results they want, and they can only do that if they stick with the course.
2. Create and leverage your community of learners
Learners are social beings regardless of the type of instruction they receive, face-to-face or online. People need to feel connected to others. Therefore, you need to create a community of learners to communicate, collaborate and engage with people with similar interests. As a result, they become part of the community, asking for and offering support when necessary.
You can also leverage the power of peer instruction and peer assessment. Learners understand the information better when they discuss it with their peers, and they increase their retention levels when they receive feedback from other learners.
The community of learners acts like a give-and-take group where everyone is involved in the well-being of its members and evolve together.
3. Personalize your course content
Your course is pre-designed when it’s launched. But this should not keep you from adjusting it on the go to suit your learners’ needs. Although your learners have chosen your course for the same reasons, how they receive and process the information varies from individual to individual.
You have to be constantly aware of your learners’ needs and cater to those needs. For instance, in a technical course, some learners might struggle with its rigid terminology which hinders their learning process. You can provide extra explanations in plain and clear language for those learners. In this way, they will feel included and it will boost their confidence in their abilities to finish the course.
4. Offer support and feedback
Learners will always have issues in different stages of your course. Although they value the opinions of their community, they will need you to offer your support throughout the course. Make sure you answer their questions and offer some feedback on their assignments. It’s how you keep them motivated and engaged.
Once your learners know they can count on you, they have no excuses to drop out. They will perceive you as a team member working towards the same goal.
5. Track learner data and use it effectively
As an online course creator, you can benefit from many tools to track your learners' evolution and behavior.
These help you collect data on various metrics, like engagement, learner satisfaction, learner acquisition, and retention rate, which you can use to offer personalized learning solutions.
It’s also crucial to understand how they interact with your platform and where they might get stuck. In this way, you can make changes to help them have a smoother experience. For example, if they find a quiz to be too difficult, it’s time to evaluate its usefulness and whether or not the content is not enough for them to successfully take the quiz.
6. Implement early intervention solutions
Prevention is preferable not only for medicine. You have to observe your learners’ behavior and anticipate their actions. You have to be a step ahead of them and provide the impulse they need to continue.
Automate your emails to reach your learners when they haven’t logged in for a few days, missed a lesson, failed to submit an assignment, need to be online for a live session, etc. You can double the emails with text messages, especially for online meetings and webinars.
Remember that your learners come from different walks of life with a lot to juggle all day, so a quick reminder will help them stay organized and engaged.
7. Choose the best learning platform
Learners tend to disengage when things get tough. That’s why an intuitive and mobile-friendly interface is crucial to keep learners in your boat. Find the best learning platform that allows you to implement all the strategies mentioned above, is easily accessible on any device, and is super easy to navigate, especially for learners.
All in all
As a course creator, you have to apply retention strategies to help learners overcome the obstacles they face when they attend your course. Use every tool available to provide valuable content, constant support, and personalization to ensure your learners can complete the course and reach their goals.