Failure to consider personality on online courses leads to lack of engagement, warns @themyersbriggs

The UK government recently launched the Skills Toolkit, an online course designed for employees who have been furloughed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With millions of people furloughed through the government scheme, many companies are developing online training programmes in order to keep their employees occupied during this period. However, it is significantly more difficult to keep people engaged when delivering training remotely, therefore The Myers-Briggs Company encourages employers to build their online training courses with personality in mind.

The Skills Toolkit, which provides free digital and numeracy courses for furloughed employees to build their skills whilst at home, is an initiative from the UK Government, in collaboration with Google and The Open University. However, similar programmes are being developed by companies up and down the UK in the hope of keeping employees active and engaged.

Engagement is no easy thing to achieve when training is being delivered remotely though, according to John Hackston, Head of Thought Leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company: “Giving people the opportunity to learn virtually during this period has the potential to provide them with an invaluable experience, but it also poses new challenges that we may not have considered when providing training previously. Without the visual cues and face-to-face interaction that come with in-person coaching, it is much harder to discern whether students are engaged in what is being taught to them.”

“It is vital to remember that some trainees will naturally prefer receiving information virtually more than others, so in order to make sure that everyone gets the most out of online learning, we recommend that providers keep personality in mind when building their courses.”

“For example, dependent on an individual’s personality, they may prefer to receive information in different ways. Those with a Sensing preference on The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) tend to pay more attention to information that comes in through their five senses, and trust facts, details, and present realities. If you look at their MBTI Step II preferences, which examine an individual’s behavioural facets, those who prefer Sensing typically learn best from direct, hands-on experiences. These people will respond better to online training when given concrete examples and practical applications for the topic being taught, and coaches should provide them with clear and sequential directions.”

“On the other hand, those with a preference for Intuition on the MBTI framework tend to pay more attention to the patterns and possibilities that they can see in the information that they receive. When operating in-preference, these people are drawn towards abstract information, and will therefore appreciate learning about the big picture and the structure that links the training objectives to the exercises being given. When interacting with these students, it will be important to allow space for getting off topic, brainstorming, and developing new ideas that may lead to a richer learning experience.”

“Another key contrast in how personality shapes our learning styles can be found in the difference between those with preferences for Introversion and Extraversion. People with a preference for Extraversion get their energy from active involvement in the outer world of people and things. These people tend to score as Active on the MBTI Step II framework, meaning they prefer active participation and discussion rather than passive observation and listening. They often develop ideas through discussion with others, so should be allowed unmuted verbal questions, as well as interactive feedback.

“Those with an Introversion preference, meanwhile, who are energised by their inner world of thoughts and ideas, tend to behave in a more Contained way, and will not talk a great deal unless they feel their contributions will really add something. These people will appreciate the opportunity to work or reflect alone, and should be given time to reflect and develop ideas internally, in the form of pre-work before the session, time to think during the session or follow-up assignments.”

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