A course without active participants is simply a source of information. While the primary goal of a course is to provide knowledge, how we deliver it makes all the difference. Involving learners benefits both the instructor and the learner.
Course creators can see firsthand what works and what needs adjustment, and learners receive constant support to be active participants. They get more out of the course than just the content.
The success of an online course can be measured by its participation rate. This indicates content quality, reliability, relevance, and customer satisfaction. All of these translate into a higher status as an online course creator and help you position yourself among your competitors.
8 Tips for increasing learner participation rates
With so much value attributed to high participation rates, course creators need to know and apply the strategies that increase these numbers.
The following tips show you how to motivate and engage your learners to ensure they are active participants in your course, capable and willing to accomplish their personal and course goals.
Know your audience and your LMS
First of all, you need to know who your learners are, their background, and their unique preferences. This is important because you have to be sensitive to their learning needs and provide equal chances to participate in your course.
Then, you should know your learning management system (LMS) well. Learn all the features and opportunities your platform has to offer and leverage them to benefit your students. Maximizing the potential of your LMS will ensure higher engagement rates and better course outcomes.
Choose an intuitive design
Your LMS is where your course happens, so make sure to choose one that elevates your course content and doesn’t diminish its value. Look for great design options, a mobile-friendly interface, learning paths, gamification, and other useful integrated tools.
Make sure your course is clear and easy to navigate. Also, choose only relevant information. This way, you can create a straightforward learning experience where learners can participate without any obstacles, especially those caused by a lack of interest. Being emotionally connected to the content and immersed in the course will ensure high participation rates.
Present the course goals at the beginning
As a course creator, you are the one holding the information and goals to reach. Present the learning goals at the beginning of your course to provide an insight into the journey ahead. Knowing what they’ll learn and the course requirements offer accurate expectations.
With a clear picture of the structure and final goals, learners will be encouraged to engage in all the steps. What's more, if you present a set of smaller goals to reach at the end of each module, learners will understand the reasoning behind your content and assignments. Consequently, their motivation to finish the course will increase.
Deliver your content in chunks
Course delivery is also essential. Try to organize your content into bite-sized modules or sections to make it easier to digest. Your learners may have a full-time job or juggle multiple ones plus home life. This structured approach will allow them to complete smaller goals. They can study on the go or whenever they can squeeze some learning into their busy schedules.
This way, your learners maintain their motivation and avoid feeling discouraged. In the long run, even if your learners don't go through much content per day, they will keep up with the course and make the best of the time they have available for their growth.
Learners need structure but also need an element of surprise to keep them on their toes and engaged in the course.
Everything demands variety, from how you deliver your content to the types of tasks you assign. Whether you’re sharing your knowledge through text, video, images, or animations, variety is crucial because it keeps learners engaged. Activating different cognitive functions will also help learners stay active and interested throughout the course.
Foster collaboration and discussion
People are generally more active if they’re part of a learning community to collaborate and share information. Moreover, if you offer opportunities for communication through chat, forums, and groups, learners will feel more confident to participate actively.
You also give them the possibility to become mentors themselves and share their knowledge with others. This way, learners benefit from deep understanding because they also clarify concepts for themselves when they teach others. For the same reason, you should value the content learners create and help them share it among their community.
Leverage social media
Motivation is crucial in terms of active participation and course completion. Social media is a rich environment that can push learners to be more involved and enthusiastic about learning.
Telling others about their learning experiences and receiving support and praise for their accomplishments will trigger more engagement and participation. It’ll also help with your social marketing strategy without feeling as such.
Offer rewards and timely feedback
Learning occurs if learners receive support and feedback throughout the course. Knowing they can count on you to guide them when needed will encourage them to ask questions or submit assignments even when they’re unsure they’ll succeed. To maintain the instructor input - student output flow, offer rewards to those who have good results and timely feedback to those who need more guidance to reach the learning outcomes.
Fostering a feeling of connection to you as their instructor will ensure a continuum of learning and increased participation rates based on support.
Read more: How to get feedback for your online course