About LAS

LAS is an award-winning provider of elearning consultancy, design, development and training services in the UK and internationally. 

Established in 2005 as LearningAge Solutions, we work with some of the best known organisations in the world to boost their performance through the innovative use of learning technologies. Working in partnership with our customers, we draw on proven principles from human behaviour, how people learn and how the brain works to create impactful digital learning solutions with real return on investment.

About Rob Hubbard

Photo of Tess Robinson

Rob is a designer through and through who is fascinated by how we learn,  what we remember and why we pay attention to certain things. He is a huge enthusiast of all that technology can offer to enhance learning and has completed a huge variety of projects in his 14 year career. 

He is the editor and co-author of The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual published by Wiley and featuring contributions from the brightest and best elearning minds on both sides of the Atlantic.

How to increase learner engagement on a budget

by Rob Hubbard
Posted: 9 January 2023

I often get asked;   

"How can we increase user engagement in this boring / necessary / mandatory piece of learning content?”   

People hope that adding audio / video / interaction / dancing penguins / juggling otters to boring content somehow makes it more interesting. It doesn’t. It makes it even more annoying.

And now, more than ever, budgets are tight and our people are under pressure. No one wants to spend their valuable time going through learning content that isn't relevant to them. We've all got much better things to do with our time (like training juggling otters).  

However, there are ways to make learning more engaging and here are some of the approaches that we find consistently work: 

1. MAKE IT RELEVANT! (I’ve gone FULL CAPS here because it’s so important)  

So, how do you make the content relevant? Talk to your audience and understand what they need in respect of the topic.

This might be:

  • The tasks they need to complete
  • The problems they need to solve
  • The questions they have

Design your learning solution to specifically and clearly meet these needs. This really is the #1 thing you can do to make learning content engaging.   

2. Connect to emotions  

We are a social species highly attuned to detect the emotions of others - make use of this. Look for the emotive 'hook' you can use in what you need to cover.  

For example, scientific studies have shown that labelling a piece of learning as 'MANDATORY' makes it 53% less interesting*
*They haven't, I made that up, but it certainly feels true  

However, topics are made MANDATORY usually because they are so incredibly important. If you look a little deeper there are emotional hooks you can use. For example: 

  • Anti-money laundering courses are there to protect (amongst others) young girls trafficked and forced into prostitution
  • Health and safety training is there so people don't have life-altering or ending injuries 

Find the emotional hook and make use of it in your learning design.  

3. Make it timely  

Another way to make the learning content more relevant is to move it closer to the point of need. By allowing people to access the content when they actually need it you will increase learner engagement, whilst also helping people to better embed the learning. The fact that they apply what they learn so quickly after initially learning it short-circuits the Forgetting Curve and helps them to retain and recall the content more reliably.   

4. Keep it short  

Really, when it comes to learning in a work environment, the shorter you can make it the better. If you can get people to a level of performance in 20 minutes rather than 40 and that learning is getting rolled out to 10k people, you’ve just saved around 440 days of person effort. If the average salary of your learners is £30k you’ve just saved your organisation £60k! Nice. Plus your learner can fit the learning in more easily around their day job.  

In summary

Notice how none of these approaches need you to spend more budget:

  1. Make it relevant - will help you be more targeted in what you create
  2. Connect to emotions - this will bring out the human story
  3. Make it timely - helps with embedding learning and
  4. Keep it short - will actively save you money

As ever, the art here is in the careful execution of these approaches and that comes with time and experience. 

At LAS there are many more approaches to build engagement that we use when working with our customers. We hope these four tips provide some inspiration. Which could you apply to your projects?

Contact us 
Sign up for the free Learning eXperience Design course