How to keep learners engaged

Supporting learners

As lockdown and restrictions continue in one form or another, we find that more and more of us are struggling to stay positive and motivated. Yes, there is hope on the horizon, but it is not yet clear just how and when we’ll begin to get back to life as we once knew it.

As a training management platform we are, of course, concerned about the well-being and mental health of learners. From apprenticeships to vocational courses, we understand the pressures young adults face as they take the first steps of their careers. And we must do everything we can to support them in their training and to help them succeed in achieving their qualifications and ambitions.

The impact of remote learning on morale

Being forced to work and study from home offers many challenges ranging from isolation to lack of motivation. There are also concerns that it might not be possible to access the right training support when needed.

If learners are to be kept happy and engaged, those who are not able to attend in-person training sessions must be carefully considered by trainers and employers.

Ian Bamford COO at Paragon Skills:

“Determining learner happiness not only relies on a clear framework for monitoring progression, but also the ability to enhance each individual’s strengths by taking a holistic approach to their learning. By providing access to the latest digital learning, we are encouraging the apprentice lead their own learning journey in a style that suits them. This gives them the autonomy to decide how they complete the curriculum with the reassuring support of their designated Personal Tutor. It’s an approach that’s high on engagement.”

Why are high engagement rates and happiness rates so important?

We’ve all become more aware in recent years of the link between health and happiness and the importance of positivity for good mental health. Happiness can impact on all aspects of our lives.

In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor, happiness researcher and bestselling author, notes that there is a large body of research and literature in this area. There are numerous recent studies concluding that subjective happiness optimises educational outcomes. Early engagement is also important as a predictor for future success and is significantly positively related to academic achievement. And we can see this in our own data too.

All of this illustrates just how vital it is to try to improve engagement and happiness rates in order to achieve successful training outcomes. This is particularly important for those whose training looks set to be interrupted or predominantly delivered remotely over the coming months.

Shawn Achor, Happiness Researcher and Speaker

“Happiness raises every educational and business outcome, from productivity to sales to intelligence. Your brain is designed to perform better at positive than at negative, neutral or stressed… if you train your brain to be more positive in the present, you can raise your success rates significantly.”

So what can you do?

You probably already execute many of the suggestions for increasing engagement and happiness in the classroom setting, but we thought they were worth reiterating in the context of remote learning. This is not the responsibility of any one party involved in apprenticeship or vocational training delivery. Everyone has a part to play if we are to truly make a difference to the engagement and the resulting attainment of our learners. 

Lester Biddle, Technology Director at HIT Training:

“The welfare and happiness of our learners is paramount to the overall success of the learners enrichment and fulfilment on our programmes. Statistics have proved the more engaged the learner is the more enjoyment they get from the learning and the higher degree of a successful outcome at the end.”

For trainers:

  • Focus on clear and consistent communication so learners feel well-supported and know exactly what they need to deliver.
  • Ensure training is delivered to a high quality, regardless of delivery method. Make sure you are confident in using the technology - make time to practice.
  • Make contact with learners regularly to develop a trusting, open relationship. Keep a record so that you can see who hasn’t been in touch for a while.
  • Check in on learners’ well-being and generally foster a culture of ‘keeping an eye out for one another.’
  • Support learners with tips for remote study and suggest how they might create the right environment for productivity at home.

For training providers:

  • Keep continuity between online and offline learning so that learners can be confident their training will remain consistently high quality.
  • Track the progress of your learners, identify issues early and help them put strategies in place to resolve them.  
  • Professionalise your delivery. This can be difficult when delivery methods are unclear, but using a system like Bud, with its cloud-based online platform, allows for seamless switching between on and offline delivery.
  • Be aware of what Ofsted inspectors evaluate when they’re assessing online learning in order that you can implement some key engagement strategies.

For employers:

  • Let apprentices or trainees see the future opportunities that are available to them. This will inspire them to explore their options for the future.
  • Understand that things are pretty tough at the moment. Give staff time to complete their training and classroom-based tasks so that they know you place value on what they’re doing.
  • Introduce your trainees to a buddy or mentor who is a couple of rungs ahead on the ladder. Someone who has been there before can offer some much-needed advice on how to navigate the world of training and work.

Kirsten Greenless, Managing Partner at Decoded:

“At Decoded, we believe that our apprentices are happiest when they’ve learnt something meaningful, which creates a transformative impact on their work and careers. The organisations we work with are seeing both learner and business transformation at scale.

How do we measure this impact? We take a data-driven approach, assessing hundreds of data points for every learner at different stages of the course. For example, after each workshop we see an average increase in the confidence of using a data analytics technique of 34%.”

You can rely on Bud to help increase engagement:

Developed to enable streamlined management of training delivery in the apprenticeship and vocational training arena, Bud has been fine-tuned to meet the needs of training providers who understand the importance of enhancing engagement.

Built for mobile, learners love the simplicity and user-friendly nature of Bud’s front-end, which helps them to work any time, anywhere and stay on track with their studies. But it’s not just learners who see the benefits. Clear, data-driven interfaces allow managers, trainers and employers alike to see progress instantly and to give real-time support to those who might be struggling or falling behind.

One element we talked about during National Apprenticeship Week in February was continuity of course delivery in the face of potential ongoing periods of isolation. This is particularly applicable to younger learners who may not be in line to get the vaccination quickly. It is an area in which Bud excels, offering as it does a consistent approach to content management and delivery by multiple trainers both online and offline.

We can’t underestimate how critical engagement is. The more engaged our learners are, the better our completion rates will be. This is vital for attracting that all important funding.

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