In today’s fast-paced world, where time is a precious commodity, adult professionals need flexible and convenient learning solutions to advance their careers. Online training has emerged as an effective and efficient way to acquire new skills and knowledge while maintaining a work-life balance. However, getting adult students to engage in their online courses can be a challenge. Here at CX University, we’ve noticed a steady increase in learner online engagement over the last several years. We’ve learned some useful strategies for improving the customer and learner experience in online education to promote engagement, and we’re happy to share them with you in this article.
Customer Experience is Key
The customer experience in online education describes each interaction the adult learner has with the organization. A positive customer experience can help build trust and loyalty, leading to higher levels of engagement. At CX University, we’ve seen increasing customer engagement as we learn from customer feedback and make improvements to the customer/learner journey. Some themes we focus on in the customer experience at CXU are:
- Clear communication: Clear and timely communication is key to a positive customer experience. Students are informed of course learning objectives, meeting dates, and a healthy timeline to complete the independent work. CXU is also quickly available to answer any questions or concerns students may have.
- Easy navigation: A user-friendly online learning platform makes a significant difference in the customer experience. The platform should be easy to navigate, with clear instructions on how to access course content, download materials, and join any online meetups for discussions and continued learning.
- Responsive support: Technical issues can be frustrating for students, especially when they are trying to access course materials on a new platform. A responsive support team can help resolve these issues quickly, reducing student frustration and improving the overall customer experience.
- Personalization: Personalization can help create a more positive customer experience. We strongly believe in personalizing the learning experience by providing students with access to course materials meeting their learning and professional goals, tailored feedback, and one-on-one support.
Enhancing the Learner Experience
The learner experience in online education is the experience that students have while engaging with the course content. A positive learning experience can help promote engagement and keep them involved in the course and online community.
- Engaging course content: Engaging course content is essential for promoting a positive learner experience. Course materials should be visually appealing and interactive, with a variety of multimedia elements such as videos, animations, and quizzes.
- Relevant content: Relevant content is crucial for promoting engagement and motivation. Course materials should be tailored to the specific needs and interests of the students, ensuring that they are relevant and useful.
- Active learning: Active learning promotes engagement and retention by encouraging students to participate actively in the learning process. Active learning strategies can include discussions, online meetups, and applied projects.
- Feedback: Feedback is essential for promoting a positive learner experience. Instructors should provide timely and constructive feedback on assignments and assessments, helping students to identify areas for improvement and build confidence.
Strategies for Promoting Engagement
In the last 8 years, we’ve developed important strategies to keep our content fresh and engaging. Here are some strategies we’ve found useful:
- Establish clear expectations: Our adult learners want to know the expectations of the course and the estimated timeline to complete the work. Many of our online courses end with a certification exam, so we offer concrete guidance to support learners on their way to earning professional certification.
- Foster a sense of community: Fostering a sense of community can help promote engagement by creating a supportive learning environment. Our greatest successes come from blended learning programs, ones that include self-paced work in conjunction with weekly or bi-weekly meetings with cohort members (colleagues).
“One of the keys to engaging adult learners in online courses is to create a sense of community and collaboration. By fostering connections between learners, instructors, and course content, you can help learners feel more invested in their learning journey,” shares Chief Educational Officer, Susan Albertson-Mettlen, of CXU.
- Encourage active participation: Encouraging active participation can help promote engagement by encouraging students to take an active role in their learning. Since many adult learners are already working full-time, we encourage them to use the learning content to develop and design projects that align with their company goals. They can seamlessly create a customer-centered program to share with their colleagues and leadership team.
“To engage adult learners in online courses, there should be a sense of relevance and practicality in the course content. By demonstrating the real-world applications of the course material, learners feel more motivated and invested in the learning process,” states CXU’s Founder and CEO, Mohamed Latib.
- Provide opportunities for reflection: Providing opportunities for reflection can help promote engagement by helping students to reflect on their learning and identify areas for improvement. All of CXU’s certification-based courses have practice tests added to their course content to fully prepare them for their certification exam.
- Use gamification: Gamification can help promote engagement by adding game-like elements to the learning experience. Using advanced animation in our online courses, our learners can practice newly learned concepts by playing games.
Getting adult learners to engage in their online courses can be challenging, but focusing on the customer experience from start to finish will let customers know that their professional training is in good hands. They will feel supported by the organization knowing that their learning experience is paramount.
- Online Learning Consortium: The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a reputable organization that provides resources, research, and professional development opportunities for educators involved in online learning.
- EDUCAUSE: EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit organization that focuses on promoting the effective use of technology in higher education. They offer a variety of resources related to online learning, including research, webinars, and case studies.
- eLearning Industry: eLearning Industry is a website that provides news, trends, and resources related to online learning. They offer a wide range of articles, reports, and guides related to adult online learning.
- Association for Talent Development: The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional association for learning and development professionals. They offer a variety of resources related to adult online learning, including research, webinars, and conferences.
- National Center for Education Statistics: The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is a federal government agency that provides data and statistics related to education. They offer a variety of reports and publications related to online learning, including data on enrollment and completion rates.
- Quality Matters: Quality Matters is a nonprofit organization that focuses on promoting quality assurance in online education. They offer a variety of resources related to online learning, including standards for course design and peer review processes.