11 Crucial Tactics for Boosting Participation in Your Community Health Worker Training Program

When a group of learners is staring blankly at you, how will you get them to join in? Here are a few ideas for better learner engagement.

Face-to-face trainings are nice when they can happen, but many community health worker programs have shifted permanently to an online format. Face-to-face trainings can make it feel easier to communicate and read the reactions of others in the room. But an online training can make it seem like you’re losing some of the participants.

It’s important to keep learners participating, especially when they’re learning how to support and care for clients and patients. Here are 11 tips you can follow to keep your CHWs engaged in what they’re learning.

Roles and Boundaries of CHWs

This 45-minute on-demand training includes topics like the differences between CHWs and other health staff, common roles, and boundaries for supervisors and managers who want to add CHWs to their team.

1. Explain the value of training

Adult learners are self-motivated. What this means for your CHW training program is that the participants need to understand what’s in it for them. If they’re learning topics such as promoting healthy lifestyles, they’ll understand what keeps people engaged.

Make it clear from the beginning how the training relates to the CHW. This could be:

  • Increased pay
  • Better skills
  • Opportunities for promotion
  • Solutions for supporting complicated clients
  • Certification or certificate of completion

2. Form partnerships with other programs and organizations

Team up with similar or complimentary programs or neighboring organizations, and ask them to co-promote the online course with you. This is very helpful for health worker training programs, where people with similar job functions are likely to work in wide range of areas. Participants can often learn from your partners while you both share strengths.

3. Remind early and often

The average person must be reminded of something 18 times before they act on it. This means you should notify participants of your new course sooner than you think and more often than you think. Look for ways to promote that include your staff’s e-mail signature and newsletters. Just keep putting the message out there.

4. Make sign-up easy

Broken enrollment forms, difficult enrollment forms, multi-step enrollment forms–they’re all bad news when it comes to encouraging registration. Make it brief and easy for people to sign up. It’s also a good idea to provide a phone number in case someone needs technical assistance when signing up, or if they’re more often in the field than in an office with access to online enrollment.

5. Introduce participants in person

Mingling in person before the course begins is a great way to introduce learners and begin forming relationships. Once they’ve made a positive connection, they’re more likely to participate in an online course. This happens naturally in a blended learning environment, but you can offer an orientation (see below) or a meet-and-greet where people can shake hands.

6. Hold an orientation

If this is the first time you’ve offered an online course, some of your potential participants might feel unsure about the format or technology. Make it easier by introducing them slowly. Hold a no-obligation orientation, either online via a webinar or in person, depending on your audience. Once people see how easy it is to take a course online, they often feel more confident about enrolling.

7. Identify champions

Some staff members will feel more passionately about online learning than others, and these are the ones you want to enlist. It’s common among groups of CHWs to find some who have taken courses before, and those who have first-hand experience the benefits of e-learning will help evangelize for you. They’ll help push your promotional efforts so you and your immediate staff aren’t the only ones.

8. Invite groups

Inviting groups is more efficient than inviting individuals. Emphasize your training is for groups of three or more, or push it to managers rather than learners. This technique also gives the groups a way to learn together and find ways to apply their knowledge to the workplace.

9. Offer takeaways

Dangling carrots are a great motivator. Offer a benefit of some kind that is only available upon successful completion. This might be a certificate of completion, compliance with a job, a workbook or forms, or even physical tools, such as blood pressure cuffs.

10. Get them involved beforehand

Find ways to get participants invested in the training before it even begins. You might invite people to submit questions to the instructor before enrollment. Another idea is to create polls or surveys whose results will feed into course content.

11. Go beyond reminder emails

Sending reminder emails is useful and relatively easy, but sometimes it’s not enough. Depending on the size of your group, you might try other ways to remind people to enroll, including phone calls, posted notices or postcards. This is especially important if your health workers aren’t necessarily in front of their e-mail all day.

Virtual CHW Training Template and Planner

Train your team virtually with this customizable guide and template.