When I open my blog editor the first prompt I see is “add an engaging title,” because we all know what happens to blog posts with boring titles… Same with eLearning course titles, conference sessions, or any piece of information, for that matter, competing in real time with the sum of everything in an electronic format.
We know engagement is important, but do we really know what engagement is?
I’ve been excavating for you this summer – peeling back the layers of what people mean when they say, “can you make it more engaging?” or “what are we going to do to engage learners?”
What are we going to do?
Well first we need to agree about what we mean by engagement — what parts of that we can influence and what parts of that live purely inside our learners’ brains.
I have some ideas.
What the learning sciences are telling us is that engagement (and disengagement) is an observable behavior. What needs to happen to get to engagement has or has not happened by the time we observe this behavior. So what we really need to be talking about is the sphere of influence we have when designing learning experiences in order to trigger engagement.
It begins with capturing attention (that neurobiological process of sorting inputs), triggering interest (connecting to what is known/relevant) which gives us the footing to activate intrinsic motivation to persevere with the learning objectives — bridging us to the engaged learner brain. Once there, a learner begins to self-regulate, taking their own initiative to maintain interest and motivation. Here’s what the process looks like:
Once learners are motivated, engagement becomes like a kind of circulatory system. The engaged learner self-regulates, taking their own initiative to maintain interest and motivation. That’s the sweet spot we’re driving for! The science is demonstrating that interest, motivation and engagement are often proportional. What this means is that by triggering attention, interest and motivation, we proportionally increase more effective engagement.
It all sounds simple, right?
There are a number of strategies we can use — but they run much deeper than session titles. To truly engage brains, what we need to be talking about is how we design the learning experience to maximize attention, interest and motivation.
Stay tuned for more / Cheers!