The importance of engaging online learners

As a result of the pandemic, a greater number of learners have switched to online learning, e-learning, and asynchronous learning for their training and education. Every candidate is different and while some may find engaging online natural, others may struggle to remain motivated during remote learning. Considering student engagement when building programs is key to ensuring learners get the most out of the available materials.

Engagement can come in many forms, from setting time for feedback and creating forums for community discussion to gamifying the learning experience. Accessibility is another key element of engagement - if learners can’t access the materials, they won’t continue with the program.

Room for discussion

Learners need space to discuss the topics at hand, gain a better understanding from their peers, and receive feedback from their mentors. Ensure learners have access to a discussion forum to create personal connections and be part of an online community to create natural engagement. Learners feel less isolated when they have opportunities for interaction with others and providing space for discussion and feedback increases the value of the learning experience.

Accessible learning

When building learning environments outside of a supported platform, such as a Learning Management System (LMS), ensure that materials can be accessed across multiple devices. In February 2021, the market share for internet users browsing via smartphones reached almost 56%, desktops followed with 42%, and tablets almost 3%. Accessibility also applies to learners that may require the use of assistive technology - such as screen readers. The more accessible a program is, the better it is for all learners to find and process information. Materials should be available for self-guided review. This allows learners to revisit content at their own pace to help knowledge retention.

Gamified learning experience

Gamification is the introduction of game-like elements into course content. This can be achieved with leaderboards showing how learners are progressing or scoring in exams. Points can be awarded as learners complete individual modules or tasks that are collected over time. Interactive mini-games and quizzes can also be used to help teach knowledge with a better rate of retention. It’s important that gamification isn’t added without careful consideration, as without relevance gamified elements become a distraction to learners.

Microlearning and bite-size modules

Long-term education is becoming less popular, particularly amongst professionals that are looking to upskill or reskill. Many people have an eagerness to learn but must do so around office hours, full-time employment and life responsibilities. Microlearning or breaking complex topics up into easy-to-consume bite-size modules motivates learners throughout the program. Studies on microlearning have reported that it drastically increases student engagement by up to 90% - compared to traditional education which is around 15%. 

How to improve student engagement using digital credentials

Digital credentials are a method of engaging online students. They are used to add gamification, provide motivational rewards to encourage course completion, and keep learners engaged once they have finished the program. 

An added benefit of digital credentials is a reduced workload for administrators when scaling learning programs. Less time is spent producing, printing, and posting physical certificates. Digital credentials eliminate the cost and time commitment of replacing certificates due to misinformation, misprints, and name changes. This frees up time for interaction and feedback between learners and the issuer and instructors, helping to boost engagement. 

Gamification using digital badges

Digital badges are used to add game-like elements to module completion through incremental awards. Learners receive an instant boost to their motivation as they don’t have to wait until the end of the program to receive a shareable award. Digital badges differ from the typical pictorial badges seen in apps such as Audible. They are hosted on a dedicated credential page which provides space for contextual data including details of the module completed, evidence of demonstrable skills, and exam scores or results. Used in combination with a leaderboard creates light-hearted competition between learners as they work towards earning the most badges within a set timeframe. 

Personal portfolios using stackable credentials

Stackable credentials are a type of issuance framework that provide candidates with the freedom to build personal skill portfolios in desirable topics. For example, an issuer that specializes in offering Microsoft Office training may include increasing levels of complexity across different software applications, e.g. levels 1 to 3 in Powerpoint and levels 1 to 5 in Excel. 

Learners can choose to progress ‘vertically’, increasing in topic complexity and gaining digital badge awards that culminate in a final digital badge or certificate once all levels are completed. Alternatively, they can build ‘horizontally’ and study level 1 and 2 in each of the programs before moving onto a new topic. Each completed level rewards learners with a portable, shareable digital badge that can be added to their resume to represent the knowledge gained. 

A visual representation of progressive digital badge awards from level 1 to 4
Example of Progressive Badges

Support the learner journey using Pathways

Accredible’s digital credentialing solution offers Pathways, the ability to build sequential groupings of credentials that guide learners on their way towards a high-value certification. Pathways enables learners to progress through multi-course learning pathways to achieve their career goals with clear and effective recommendations on which credentials should be taken and when. Issuers can help motivate learning progress by setting-up milestone credentials that are automatically issued once the learner has satisfied the goal criteria. Supporting analytics dashboards provide insights and instant visibility into learner expertise, course enrollments, and course completion to help issuers make informed decisions around their created learning pathways.

Engage candidates after completion

A key benefit of digital credentials for recipients is the shareability of their new award. The journey to sharing a traditional paper certificate or PDF credential requires several steps on the recipient’s behalf. Digital credentials are received instantly via email to then share in one click directly from the credential page or add to digital wallet cards on smartphones for use on-the-go. With the ease of shareability, candidates are motivated to celebrate their achievement in the moment with their friends, family, and peers. 

Accredible digital credentials are shareable across many social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Digital credentials can also be shared to LinkedIn feeds or added directly to the recipient profile. As LinkedIn grows in popularity as a tool for recruiters and hiring managers, this directly impacts a recipient’s employability prospects.  

For issuers, shareable digital credentials provide marketing benefits by harnessing the reach of their candidates to potential future customers. Followers of a recipient see the success their peers achieve with their digital credentials which creates an interest and demand for the same opportunities. 

In Summary

Engagement is a key aspect of online learning that shouldn’t be ignored. Without engagement, learners become demotivated and struggle to retain the information presented. Engaging learners through the delivery of digital credentials provides benefits for the learner and the issuer. 

Learners benefit from shareable, portable digital awards that showcase their ability and the depth of their knowledge. They are motivated to complete modules and certifications with incremental awards and gain the freedom to build personal skill portfolios based on their needs. 

Issuers gain a powerful marketing tool that boosts visibility to their brand, programs, and credentials. The insights available through credential collections enables issuers to maintain engagement as learners progress and prevent demotivation and drop-offs. 

For more information about implementing digital credentials for your certifications and training programs to motivate and engage candidates, contact the Accredible team today. Or follow the links below to learn more about our:

Further Reading

For organizations just getting started in or currently offering professional certification that are looking to create programs supported by digital credentials we have created the Creating a Certification Program with Digital Credentials Guide. This guide is intended to inform stakeholders and decision-makers about the benefits of utilizing digital credentials to reward, motivate, and incentivize learners.

Use this guide to:
• Identify learner and employer preferences for training and development
• Research the steps in building an effective certification program
• Create course content that appeals to the target audience
• Learn how digital credentials are used to motivate, reward, market, and scale

Get the Guide