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Effective e-learning relies largely on engagement. What is it that a specific piece of content needs to ensure that people will engage with it? How do you incentivise learners to keep coming back to explore other pieces of content? What’s the most effective and rewarding way to get them to learn what you, as a business, need them to know to meet your goals and objectives?

Here, G&G Advocacy CEO Michael Gullan outlines 5 key trends in adult e-learning content development that can help you drive engagement.


  1. Making space - For learning to be effective, adults need to have the space and time to focus on the material presented to them, and astute businesses are working this into their employees’ daily tasks. “Multi-tasking is a learning killer,” says Gullan. This means organisations that want their teams to learn effectively, are setting time aside for their employees to go through training programmes during the work day. “Thanks to elearning,” says Gullan, “employees no longer need to be out of the office, onsite, for days at a time, but they do need time during their work day to study. Making employees go through learning material after hours just shows a lack of consideration for their need for downtime, and breeds resentment.”
  2. Measuring up - While micro-learning isn’t new, it’s still not as widely used as it should be. Savvy organisations are developing and presenting their learning content in bite-size chunks, not swathes of text or content-heavy presentations. Micro-learning -  the process of introducing people to concepts one at a time, and then building on that, iteratively, until they have the full picture - is proven to be more effective than traditional learning approaches. Smaller pieces of content are also easier for adults to focus on from start to finish, as and when they get the time to do so.
  3. Getting emotional - Emotion, as neuroscientists will tell you, is tightly linked to memory. Learning material that engages adults emotionally, in the right way, drives the best learning outcomes. Successful learning programmes do this using visual and written material that evokes certain feelings - the images, videos, even the fonts used all play into this element.
  4. Playing it again - Repeating content in such a way that the material is learnt, rather than boring the student senseless, is something of an art. And it’s an art that HR and skills development managers need to ensure their learning solution providers have mastered. Practicing the same skill endlessly can be tedious, unless that repetition is presented in the right way. Says Gullan, “Here, gamification techniques can be very effective, helping learners to hone skills by rewarding them with badges, points and other incentives as they improve.”
  5. Rewarding behaviour - If you want people to repeat behaviours, reward them. This sounds simple but there is an art to this too. “Rewarding people goes beyond the obvious action of giving them something in recognition of their achievements,” comments Gullan. Particularly for adult learners, rewards are more nuanced, and complex. Learning programmes that are doing it well feature many rewarding elements, including encouraging exploration, building community, games, competitions and facilitating personal interaction with fellow learners, trainers and mentors.


“COVID-19 has prompted a rapid change in the way learning is delivered, and given us an opportunity to relook tired, old learning tropes and replace them with effective and considered elearning solutions that drive real business goals and objectives. The above trends have all arisen as a result of this and will continue to play out in the space in the short term,” concludes Gullan.