Five Ways to Increase Learner Engagement

Picture of James Snook

James Snook

James is a SkillSet consultant and a keen blogger. Here is his take on how to increase learner engagement.

Elearning is a convenient way for organisations, large and small, to offer training. Perhaps your staff need to complete annual compliance training, or you have customers who need to use new technology? Whatever the requirements, SkillSet can turn your existing training materials into eLearning, or create new eLearning courses designed according to your specific requirements.

How can you be sure that the eLearning is effective and that learners engage with the content? This is where our expertise can help you. We have been creating eLearning for 30 years, so we know how to create courses that really work.

A good learning experience should be fun and engaging. Elearning also needs to be easy to use and accessible. If you want to increase learner engagement, here are five things you should do:

1. Provide clear navigation as learners work through a course

Learning is about moving from not knowing to knowing, and then to doing. When designing courses, you should make it easy for users to navigate through these different stages. You can do this by:

  • Providing clear prompts on each page to show where they are within the course (e.g. ‘You have completed 4 out of 12 lessons’).
  • Showing a progress bar at the top of the page, indicating how many lessons are left in the course (e.g. 5 out of 12 lessons complete).
  • Showing activity logs where learners can see what they’ve done so far, what they need to do next, and how far they have progressed with their tasks (e.g. ‘You have completed 1/3rd of all tasks in this course’).

Here are some examples from recent projects:

2. Use motion graphics or animated videos

Videos are a great way to capture the attention of learners and make them more engaged with what they are learning. Video stimulates two senses – sight and hearing – providing a deeper, multi-sensory learning experience compared to other formats. Videos can also show examples of the real-life application of skills, rather than simply telling a learner what to do. SkillSet often uses a tool called Vyond to produce engaging, animated videos. Vyond allows us to depict scenarios or processes in an engaging and easy-to-understand way. This is particularly helpful when the content is complex and technical, like the material for Getinge’s Torin OptimalQ. You can read more about in our case study here.

3. Expand your course offering to include ad hoc learning opportunities

The best learning courses have been tailored to individual learners. Alongside your mandatory training, you could offer courses on things like Microsoft Office, presentation skills, leadership skills etc. These courses could be optional, and employees able to access them at their leisure. Your staff can become active participants in shaping their own learner journeys by choosing courses that interest them. This creates a great motivation to learn, keeping staff engaged and reducing turnover.

As the course provider, you can monitor which courses your learners are choosing and their progress. From this, you can create a skills matrix that you can use to make strategic decisions about future projects.


Don’t set all of your mandatory training to expire at the same time: try to spread these courses out over time. This ensures employees are not overwhelmed with lots of training all at once and they get used to using the system on a regular basis. The more that employees use the learning management system, the more comfortable they will become with using it and navigating through it.

4. Give your learners a sense of achievement

If you really want to engage your learners, then you need to give them a sense of achievement when they finish an assignment or complete a lesson. You can do this by providing feedback or scores on each assignment, or a certificate upon course completion. This not only helps you keep track of how well each learner is doing, but it also gives learners something tangible to share with their friends and colleagues.

You could also offer your learners:

  • Badges – these allow the learner to record achievements within their learning. They are like certificates but are much more flexible.
  • Experience Points – they allow the learner to gain “experience” for completing activities within your learning management system. When they gain a certain amount of experience points, their level will be increased.
  • Leaderboards – these provide the ability to see a user’s score and learning progress compared to other learners within your organisation.

Examples of a leaderboard and of providing feedback within a course are shown below. 

5. Engage the learner with real-world exercises or guided simulations to embed learning

Learners retain about 75% of the knowledge gained through practice but only around 10% when they just read something. Virtually everything that you learn is through trial and error. If you think about any skill or any knowledge that you currently have, you would have started with low skill or little knowledge, then built this up by trying things, changing what you were doing, then learning more.

In other words, you have an experience, you get some feedback on that experience (either good or bad, and given to you by others or from self-reflection), then you try again and see if you have improved or not.

Elearning can be built to replicate this learning experience. Learners should be invited to make decisions or try things out, potentially make mistakes, then be given feedback on their choices. This replicates how we learn in real life. It results in a more enjoyable learning experience and greater knowledge retention.

There are lots of different ways to increase learner engagement. SkillSet discusses user engagement with all of our clients, right at the start of a project. We then recommend the solutions that we know will work best for you. Designed well, eLearning is not only a cost-effective and convenient way to deliver training: it can be fun for the learners too!

If you’d like to discuss your organisation’s eLearning needs, please contact us to arrange a time for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can discuss your requirements and explain how SkillSet can help you meet your learning objectives.