Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Why Is Engagement In On-line Studying So Necessary?

Why is engagement so important to learning, especially online?

Engagement is the degree to which learners are paying attention, participating, and making an effort. Engagement has a direct impact on the individual’s ability and willingness to learn and apply the information and skills presented [1].

If you’ve taught a course or offered corporate training, you’ve seen learners lose interest or motivation and become passive learners or simply disappear. People are preoccupied with family and work responsibilities that can make it difficult for them to participate, perform the required duties or responsibilities, and receive the support they need. This particularly applies to online delivery. The lack of personal interaction and accountability means that learning difficulties go unnoticed. Online courses and training need to do more than simply provide information to address learner needs.

The value of increasing engagement is that it makes learning more enjoyable and motivating, ensuring that learners are involved, focused, and ready to expand the effort to learn the skills and knowledge presented. Increased engagement not only helps students be more successful, it also helps with retention, which is vital for educational institutions. Increased involvement in corporate training increases the efficiency, productivity and satisfaction of employees. Positive learning experiences can also motivate employees to continue learning independently and to apply their learning in new ways.

Aspects of engagement

Before discussing ways to increase learner engagement, it is important to be aware of the various aspects of engagement. One aspect of engagement is the level at which learners show up, actively participate, and complete the required tasks. A second aspect is the level at which learners strive to internalize the content, improve their performance, and feel confident that they can be successful. The third aspect is the level at which learners are positive and optimistic about the learning experience. Simply appearing and participating is not enough to motivate the learners significantly. All of these aspects should be considered when assessing and increasing engagement [2].

Barriers to Engagement

There can be many barriers to engagement among adult learners. One of these is distractions, especially when studying online. With text messages, calls, emails, meetings, and children, pets, and work and family commitments, it’s no wonder learners are out of focus. Making sure the learning is interactive and engaging can improve focus.

Another barrier to learners can be a history of poor learning. These can be poor trainers, lack of support, boring or ineffective delivery methods, and poor performance. By increasing all aspects of engagement, learners get more positive experiences that replace previous negative experiences.

Learners who do not see the purpose in what they are supposed to learn usually do not participate in the study. By ensuring that the activities included in the course or training are not only interesting, but also meaningful and relevant, engagement can be increased [3].

Increase engagement through interactive activities

An effective way to increase engagement from online learners is to add interactive games, simulations, presentations, and ratings that reinforce the content in a fun and engaging way. In addition to practicing, providing micro-blocks of content, and amplifying information, these enticing activities can also replace lengthy memorization, worksheets, and PowerPoint presentations.

The Andragogy Principles tell us that adult learners need experiential learning, as well as purpose and relevance to what they are learning. Although many educational publishers offer pre-built interactive learning activities, they may not include the same terminology, processes, or content that aligns with the objectives of the course or training. Learners often view these general activities as busy work, reducing interest in completing them. Therefore, all interactivities should contain your specific content and not off-the-shelf activities that may be entertaining but of little real value to the learners.

Learners are more likely to actively participate, complete tasks, and have a positive attitude when the course or training includes interactive activities that are relevant, support and reinforce the content, and replace boring, tedious, or meaningless tasks. If instructors, coaches, and instructional designers can easily provide interactive learning experiences, break up the content, encourage exploration, and help learners connect with the content, all aspects of engagement are likely to improve.

Many educators agree that courses and training must be engaging to be effective, but also face time constraints and limited developmental skills. Fortunately, there are a variety of development tools that can be used to create interactive learning functions. However, many are very complex and time consuming. When choosing a tool, it is important that both the development of time and the level of skills required are taken into account. I have found that the web-based tool Raptivity enables the quick and easy development of interactivity that can be effectively used in different content areas. This tool provides a variety of templates with clear, concise instructions for customizing, each with an example of a completed interaction. They are also SCORM and xAPI compatible and respond to a wide variety of devices.

Final thoughts

People involved in course and training development often wear many hats and are usually faced with time constraints. When you start to increase engagement, choose a tool that is easy to use and that suits your skill level. This is a quick and easy way to create high quality learning interactions so that you can focus on content and andragogy most of the time.

Also, start small by working on one class or training at a time. Only add a few new interactive activities at a time. The idea that any course or training needs to increase engagement at the same time can be overwhelming.

Since online learners may take the course or training in the evenings or on weekends when help may not be available, it is very important to test all interactive elements to make sure they work properly, have clear instructions, and are completed independently can.


[1] The importance and benefits of learner engagement

[2] A basic guide to types of learner engagement

[3] Barriers to Learning: How to Meet the Challenge of Engagement

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