Make your learning more engaging without spending a penny

Talking to learning professionals we know and attending workshops, webinars and conferences, we hear it over and over again – how can I provide engaging and effective training with little to no budget? It’s a challenging question. Here are a few ways to add interest and engagement to your learning that may not cost you a penny...

  1. Talk to other people in your organization to see if there’s potential to pool resources. Even if you’re dealing with different topics, there may be an opportunity to share resources, templates or components that have been successful. Working together to create organizational standards can also streamline development, saving time and money.
  2. It’s a fact that 80% of workplace learning happens informally. Put on your detective hat and find out how this is happening already – are there ways to enhance this with free or inexpensive tools? For instance, is there a subject matter guru that everyone turns to for your topic? Could you record her answering frequently asked questions and distribute them as a weekly podcast or post them on an intranet site? If you can record from your computer, the only cost may be your time.
  3. Become a storyteller – an inexpensive yet effective technique to engage learners and make them understand the importance of your topic is to tell real stories about the subject within the organization. For instance, if you’re developing policy and procedure training, gather stories from real employees as to how they are important to their work. Using a conversational tone and adding emotion enhances the stories.
  4. Take your own pictures and video. There’s a place for professional A/V teams, but you can do a lot yourself with a digital camera you already own or borrow that beats stock photos any day because it’s real. Follow a subject matter expert around to capture what your learners really need to know in its true context. Tools you probably already have on your computer or can easily download for free will let you crop your photos to focus in on the action.
  5. Make a point to seek out and regularly follow a few blogs on the topic as  they’re great for new ideas. I particularly like the Rapid eLearning Blog (great ideas for eLearning even if you don’t use Articulate) and recently started following Gamestorming (awesome focused games for face-to-face). The eLearning Learning blog aggregates posts from other bloggers, so it’s a quick way to get ideas from a variety of sources. I find using a free tool like Google Reader or NetNewsWire makes managing the blogs I follow a snap.

And as for getting that bigger budget - we’ve found that the first step is working on ensuring your training is clearly aligned with business needs. Then, add evaluation so you can prove to senior management that what you’re doing is really worthwhile and has a clear impact on organizational performance and bottom line. Dollars follow proven results!