Following the positive response we received from our article Ways to Increase E-learning Participation among health worker professional development programs, we offer 10 more ways to help learners lock away lessons.
1. Address common reasons learners don’t retain information.
The most common reason why people don’t retain learning is they don’t finish a course. If you can find out what the underlying reasons are for dropping out, you can present your learners with an experience they can use. In most cases, withdrawals are due to family, job commitments (very common with CHWs who balance working in the field with completing a course), vacations and poor time management. Change up when and how you offer your information, and you can make it easier for students to complete.
2. Encourage learning outside the classroom.
Whether a course happens in person or online, what happens during class time represents only part of the learning process. In order to make sure people keep learning when they’re outside of the classroom, which is the best way to encourage retention, apply lessons to work time during coaching sessions or work with peers, or supply tools and resources that can be used with clients.
3. Give relevant examples.
Concrete examples gleaned from other health workers that relate closely to the job at hand or the people in the community is a proven way for learning to stick. Present case studies of real people or situations. Interview in-house experts and use their contribution as learning material. Avoid generalizations and vagueness, and participants in a course will find it much easier to understand how what they’re learning relates to their job.
4. Encourage participation.
Flat, one-sided courses are a sure ticket to inattention and boredom. Participation greatly helps people interact and remember material. If you use a facilitator in your training program, make sure they’re asking questions to check understanding. Ask students to research a concept and explain it to the rest of the class. Group work and role plays are also helpful activities for encouraging participation.
5. Use a little humor.
Professional development courses don’t have to be boring, but many of them end up dry. Inject a little humor into the course and people will remember the joke when it’s connected to a lesson.
6. Provide plenty of support.
Some health workers are unengaged because they’re bogged down with the technology or aren’t sure how to proceed. Begin early by identifying learners who are at risk of dropping out or who have little technical knowledge. If you have physical space, appoint someone who can sit down at a computer with the learner and guide them through tasks.
7. Refer to previous and future learning.
Job training doesn’t happen in isolation–it should be a continuum of learning experiences before and after the course you’re offering. Provide reference to foundational courses learners might have taken in the past, and give the course future context.
8. Use mixed media.
Some learners are visual, some are auditory and some do better with written text. Mix up how you present information, and you’ll better reach students with different learning styles.
9. Challenge learners.
Is your class hard enough? If the course is too pattycakey, learners will quickly feel bored–or worse, insulted–and switch off. Challenge learners with enough work, questions that make them think, asking them to research.
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10. Make sure you’re not asking too much.
Some courses, on the other hand, are too hard. Learners can become discouraged quickly, which also makes them switch off. Make sure your material is targeted correctly and that you’ve provided learners with the appropriate foundational work they’ll need to succeed.