Learner engagement focuses heavily on the learner’s connection and sense of belonging at the university, which is typically fostered through relationships with other students, faculty, and staff. Engagement increases within learners when their encounters are respectful, trusting, supportive, and caring. Learners feel more confident and motivated when faculty and staff show support and care about their efforts.
Conversely, when learners feel disconnected, they perceive those relationships with faculty, staff, and engaged learners as disrespectful, offering a sense of instability and the feeling of being unsafe. Disengaged learners demonstrate a lack of participation, fail courses or drop out altogether due to an absence of interest.
Learners seek relatability. They are looking for the human being behind the layers of degrees, academic titles, and professionalism. One way to increase learner engagement is by implementing a personal presence. This can be accomplished by connecting the content to pop culture, athletes and/or personal hobbies as a means of making bite-sized information more palatable. Another way is to include an About Me video in any online or face-to-face format. The learners are simply looking for a common interest within their organizations, courses, training, and campus community events.
It is imperative to recognize the culture for learner engagement begins with us. Our every interaction cultivates the leaders for tomorrow. We must lead knowing there is a difference between intent and impact. Our course designs, lesson plans, events, and daily activities provide a disservice when we do not have a connection with our learners.
So, I leave you with this question. What will you do today to influence connection?
Instructional Designer II, Digital Learning and Academic Innovations