In this month’s edition of our Training Tips series, we asked Training, Marketing, and Customer Success Managers to answer the question, “How do you keep students engaged in training?”

iStock-484043492.jpgHow do you keep students engaged in training?

  • At Optimizely, we believe that industry education is more valuable than product training. If we can educate our customers in a way that gets to the root of what they care about — how to get better at their jobs — then they’ll be more likely to keep learning with us. But the content isn’t enough; we also believe in providing opportunities for interactivity early and often. We like to give our learners chances to reflect, challenge their assumptions, test their skills, and ask questions.”
    – Adam Avramescu, Head of Customer Education at Optimizely
  • Switch up how you present the material – don’t have just videos presenting the material and don’t have just static slides/PDFs presenting the material. We also take advantage of Skilljar’s quiz features and occasionally test the student’s knowledge before letting them advance to the next section. If all else fails, an incentive for the students to complete the training went a long way for Heyco – at the beginning of the year, we announced an exclusive promo for our top Distributors. Any of the students that successfully completed Hey U Online before April 1st received a $10 eGift card of their choosing – results were outstanding!
    Tom Marsden, Product Manager at Heyco
  • People learn by doing, so to keep them engaged you need to design learning experiences where they are actively doing something at a regular cadence. Several of John Medina’s “Brain Rules” and useful to remember and speak to how are brains are wired. Stimulating emotions, multiple senses (particularly vision), and simply not being boring are essential in keeping students engaged in training. At least every tenth minute learners should be doing something self directed or get woken up in some novel or exciting way. I think the key is that, let’s face it, some content just isn’t very exciting but you don’t need every minute to be exciting, just every tenth minute.
     Betsy Bruce, Senior Manager of Education at Socrata
  • In a task-based course, it’s important to provide context that shows the learner how they can use the information in the environment that they will be applying the skills. Instead of giving learners “how-to’s” that only describe what something is and how to perform it in a siloed environment, we explain the user story within the task and demonstrate it as if it were being performed in real time. For example, instead of using a different use case in each module, we follow the workflow of one example through multiple modules, and even through processes outside of our application, to make sure that the learner knows where his or her work fits in with our application. It’s all about meeting the user where they’re at rather than expecting him or her to apply context to a siloed how-to.”
    – Amanda Bridge, Technical Writer at Procore

Key Takeaways:

  1. Don’t just train at people! Shake up your content with processing activities to help students reflect on what they’ve just learned.
  2. Shuffle the deck! Deliver your training in multiple ways, whether it’s videos and PDFs or slides and an audio file. No course should only have one type of content. 
  3. Keep learners active! Allow students to actively engage with the content and self-direct through their learning path. People have short attention spans, so break up training with interactive activities.
  4. Tell a story! Give learners context on why the training they’re working through is relevant for their use case. Share customer success stories and outline learning outcomes early so there’s no question that this content is important!


In our Training Tips series, we asked Training, Marketing, and Customer Success Managers what some of their best practices are to get the most out of a customer training program.  Stay tuned for new Q&As each month!