Many organizations that offer e-Learning opportunities find it difficult to attract audience participation. This is not surprising when you consider how little time people have to invest in training that is not mandatory. If you want more people to participate, you’re going to have to make outreach efforts. Assuming you have an offering that is valuable for your target audience, here are some ideas:
- Define an e-Learning brand for your offering. The brand needs to be in sync with your organization’s brand and the website where your offering resides. Your brand needs to make an emotional connection with your targeted learners and demonstrate the value of your offerings to their career development. It needs to create a positive impression and communicate quality.For example, when we worked with the Susan Byrnes Health Education Center to create the LearntobeHealthy.org brand, we wanted it to tie to a web address, be positive and encouraging, connect with a diverse audience and convey action.
- Promote your e-Learning brand. Once your brand is defined, you need to promote it. Consider a variety of options, including print media, email, social media channels, videos and in-person and virtual presentations.
- Provide incentives for prospective learners to participate. Incentives can include certificates, prizes, discounts or credits toward performance reviews. Some organizations have also had success creating competitions to engage their target audience. Without a reward for participating, attracting learners will be difficult. For instance, I know my teenage son would not have completed the safe driving course on State Farm’s Learning Center website without the incentive of earning a discount on his car insurance.
- Communicate with the managers of your targeted learners. In some cases, getting people to participate in training requires direction from their managers. As in most organizations, here at JPL, managers work with their team members to plan training that aligns with career and company goals. The managers recommend courses and learning activities that they are confident will be worth the investment.
- Make a portion of your offering mandatory. We see the most success with clients who have a mixture of mandatory and voluntary courses. The mandatory courses draw targeted learners and get them to establish profiles. It also exposes them to the value of your offering. In late 2012, we added mandatory courses to PaVTN, an e-Learning site that serves police officers. By making mandated courses available, participation has skyrocketed and traffic on the voluntary courses has also grown.
Ideally, you can use a combination of the above ideas to build traffic to your learning offering. I encourage you to share any ideas that have been successful for you.