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  • Writer's pictureMark Gash

What is engagment in eLearning?

In general, user engagement across digital platforms is concerned with how often and for how long someone interacts with your app or website. This is linked to their level of interest - if the experience or content is mundane or requires little participation from the user, then their engagement will be low. The benchmark for success is whether your users come away with a positive experience that makes them want to return. In eLearning, engagement is key to the success of your platform and can mean the difference between users retaining important information or forgetting it the moment they log out.

Whilst the process of creating engaging eLearning uses a specific list of methods, it’s worth noting that there are two distinct learning audiences with different needs to be considered. Online courses generally fall into one of two categories - mandatory and voluntary.

  • Mandatory courses are often compliance-based, with users required to undertake them as part of their health and safety, HR onboarding process or ongoing career development. Users accessing mandatory courses are often only doing so because they have been instructed to, so their initial engagement levels are likely to be low as they haven’t chosen to participate. The challenge here is to ramp up the interactivity from the start, to really pull them into the course and hold their interest until the end. Learning how to safely pick up a box isn’t the most riveting of subjects, so it’s going to require a bit of work to make it engaging.

  • Voluntary courses are usually researched and paid for by people who want to learn something new off their own backs. They will likely be excited and open to learning at the start of the course but will soon become disengaged and disappointed if the course doesn’t hold their attention or offer value for money in terms of its content.

Measuring engagement with your eLearning

The more interaction points you build into your courses, the more you encourage user engagement and have the opportunity to measure it.

If your LMS is built in software such as Moodle, you can track users as they move around the platform and award them points for engaging with certain pages or for spending time exploring. These analytics are available to admins but can also be used to gamify the engagement process for users. Adding a level-up feature will show users a visual build-up of their engagement score, whether this is in the form of a star chart or collecting reward points. The beauty of this is that the quest to earn more points will prompt even more engagement from the user! Behind the scenes, you can see which courses users accessed, completion rates, time spent on the LMS and user drop off, which all give insight into your audience’s engagement.

Promoting engagement in your eLearning

When it comes to your online courses, there are numerous ways to introduce interactivity and gamification to hold your audience’s interest. Just be mindful that no matter how much you dress a course up, none of the ideas below is a replacement for writing interesting content!

Levelling-up and badges

As mentioned above, rewarding users for exploring your platform and content is a simple yet effective way to encourage engagement. Visual rewards that build up encourage individuals to push harder and do more to reach the next level. Anybody who has played Candy Crush or collects Tesco Clubcard points will already be familiar with the concept of trading loyal engagement for rewards. Similarly to levelling-up, learners can earn digital badges, which can be shared on sites such as Linkedin as part of a digital CV. All of these features are available as part of a Moodle Learning Management System.

Treasure hunts

Just as a real-world treasure hunt involves players searching areas to uncover hidden items, an eLearning treasure hunt requires users to search your Learning Management System and courses. Your audience will need to visit key pages to find all pieces of the treasure hunt and unlock rewards. It’s simple to implement a treasure hunt using tools in the Moodle software.

Interactive video

Don’t give your learners the opportunity to fall asleep during a video, make them interact with it! By creating branching storylines, you force users to participate in the learning and means you can show the consequences of decisions. Adding a layer of interactivity to your existing training videos is simple, using a tool such as H5P in a Moodle LMS.


Test user knowledge as they go along - have they engaged with your content? Have they learned anything? Quizzes are a tried and tested way of quickly checking that your users are following and understanding the course. Quizzes are simple to set up and available as part of the majority of learning platforms and course authoring software.


Games take the knowledge-checking idea of a quiz and expand it into a variety of gamified experiences that can be as simple or as complex as your budget will allow. Games usually need to be created in special course-authoring software such as Articulate, Elucidat or H5P. If you don’t have the skills to create games, speak to an eLearning content specialist.

360° worlds

A step up from games is an explorable virtual 360° world, which contains all the navigation, course elements, info and activities. It allows you to recreate locations, scenes and rooms that users can enter and interact with - perfect for scenario-based training and creating an engaging experience that your users will become fully immersed in. Basic 360° worlds can be made with your phone camera and H5P, although to deliver a truly interactive environment, you may need to call in the experts!

Track and improve learner engagement

The analytics tools in your LMS and software will be able to track and report on individual users, showing their engagement levels through time spent and completion rates. This will allow you to pinpoint areas where you may be losing learners due to a lack of engagement and fix those parts of your course. If you use a Moodle-based Learning Management System, we recommend the LearnerScript plug-in, which generates simple reports that show how learners are engaging with your online courses.

Engagement is all about adding value to your users to keep them interested in your courses. The ultimate aim being for them to retain more of the knowledge and skills you are providing them through eLearning.


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