Halloween Special: Tricks & Treats to Supercharge Learner Engagement

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RIP Boring Headstone Bats FlyingAt Halloween, the Growth Engineering team dresses up. Ghouls, goblins, skeletons, zombies and witches will enter the office on Friday the 31st October.

To keep with the spirit (badumtsssh) of the Scary menacing skeletonday, this article is all about the special ‘tricks’ and ‘treats’ that you can use to get learners engaged with their training programme.

Are you feeling brave? Then let’s begin… Muahahahaha.

Trick 1: Make Learning Social

It’s a statistic terrifying enough to make any L&D professional quake in their boots and reach for the holy water: only 10% of our knowledge is gained through ‘formal’ learning practices, yet most organisations are putting 100% of their investment into this kind of training!

Coffin greenIn fact, rather than in classrooms where learners are encouraged to be quiet and work on their own, most of our knowledge is gained when we learn socially. This ‘informal’ learning involves on-the-job training (70% of knowledge gained) and learning from others (20%).

Therefore, one ‘trick’ that I’m ‘treating’ L&D professionals to is this: make learning online a more sociable experience and reap the rewards! Encourage learners to communicate with one another, collaborate on projects, seek and offer advice, and share related content that might interest others. This’ll have your intellectual capital rising from the grave in no time!

Angry blue ghostTreat 1: Reward Learners for Their Hard Work

How long would a ghost haunt a castle if its occupants were impossible to scare? After a few days or months of trying its best to terrify the bejeebus out of the house guests and receiving nothing but, “Do you hear something, dear?” “No, dear,” in reply, it’s likely the ghoul will give up and stop trying.

In the same way, if learners aren’t acknowledged or rewarded for their hard work in learning new things, how long will it be until they give up completely? We reward ghosts with a shriek and trick-or-treaters with sweets, and we need to reward learners too: remuneration, real-life gifts and rewards, virtual achievements, points and badges – all these will help to get the learners continuing their learning journeys and enjoying the process. So chase the cobwebs away and delight learners with gamification – more about that here!

Trick 2: Tell a Story

Stories are an ancient method of teaching and learning – from telling stories using cave art and complex 1,000-word novels to trading horror-filled tales around campfires, stories convey information, meaning and, at their core, are a representation of a series of events. Therefore, to really capture learners’ attention and get them understanding a topic, it’s useful to set the scene and tell a story. Consider these two eLearning scenarios:

“Prior to entering a meeting, Salesperson A decides they would like to seal the deal with £500,000, intend to get £470,000 and absolutely must get £450,000. The contract is signed for £470,000.

Question: What negotiation model is this and what was the outcome?”


“Dracula is out trick or treating and he’s trying to get the Damsel in Distress at Number 10 to hand over more chocolate bars at her front door. He approached the house with three numbers in his head: 2, 4 and 6. He considers these the number of chocolate bars that he must get, intends to get and would like to get.

After much begging, pleading and sharp-toothed snapping, Dracula convinces the Damsel in Distress to give him 4 chocolate bars.

Question: What negotiation model was Dracula practising and what was the outcome?”

If you were faced with these two scenarios in an eLearning module, which do you think would be more engaging and which might send you into an early grave? Exactly…

Treat 2: Use Potions to Turn Learners into Stars

cauldronFrankenstein created his monster out of arrogance; to prove he was like a god. The quest for eternal youth caused calamity for Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis in Death Becomes Her. And, of course, Jeff Goldblum’s transformation in The Fly was due to his desire to perfect teleportation.

Clearly, we all like to be thought of as an expert sometimes.

But, unlike in horror films, seeking fame and stardom doesn’t have to end in tragedy! With the right tools, learners can be seen as experts in their own topic of interest, which engages them to act as teachers, helping others to further their knowledge. Gamification helps to make this a reality: leaderboards dedicated to certain topics can show which learners know the most about that area of interest.

Trick 3: Competition isn’t Scary

One main complaint we often hear about gamification is that it drives competition and ‘competition doesn’t work in learning’. Really, now? Maybe this is the case for Learning Management Systems that don’t connect gamification with learning objectives – awarding a badge simply for staying logged in for 20 minutes, for instance. But when gamification is properly connected to learning, the competition that it evokes is an excellent motivator…

Witch on a broomstickWendy Witch has been on holiday. When she logs back into her Learning Management System after her time off, she sees that she has been knocked off the top spot on the LMS’s leaderboard.

“Oh no!” she exclaims. “That darned Valerie Vampire is sucking all the points from the LMS!”

To regain her standing, Wendy gets on her broomstick and zooms to the next eLearning module. She’s jetlagged from her trip but she decides to power on through the pain, and soon enough she has a cauldron full of knowledge stirring around in her brain, simmering away. The badges and points she gets for completing the eLearning module send her soaring back up to the top spot on the leaderboard.

“That’ll show Valerie Vampire! Ahahahaha!” she cackles.

Treat 3: Do You Want to Play a Little Game?

sawNo, we’re not suggesting you ‘Saw’ your learners’ feet off, slice their eyes open or force them to search in their colleague’s stomach contents for a key.

But using elements of gaming within learning can have a whole host of benefits for the organisation and your learners.

To find out more about how gamification in online learning will shake the cobwebs away, turn learners into stars and allow them to smash any and all obstacles that stand in their way, fill in the form below!

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