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Motivation Techniques

for the Online Classroom


B Y PA M E L A S L I M

Pamela Slim

Table of Contents
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INTRODUCTION

Autonomy, mastery and purpose

Who is the sponsor?

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Creating a relevant and engaging story about the business

Career goals and personal outcomes

A U D I E N C E A N A LY S I S : D I S C O V E R I N G A N D D E F I N I N G R E L E VA N C E
Business objectives

D E S I G N F O R M O T I VAT I O N
E N G A G I N G Y O U R L E A R N E R S A C R O S S G E N E R AT I O N S

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SUMMARY

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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ABOUT CITRIX GOTOTRAINING

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Introduction
Designing online learning can be challenging since there are so many variables to manage. What technology should you use? Which
mediums will drive the best learning? How much content should you include?
But there is a more fundamental question under all the technology details: Will your learners actually engage with and complete your
training? How do you create and maintain their motivation throughout the entire course? When you get this right, you will solve 80%
of your motivation problems.
In this ebook, Ive shared some frameworks and tools that will help you plan, design and launch online training programs that your
learners will be naturally motivated to complete.

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What drives motivation?


When we think about online learning, we tend to think about methods, metrics and tools.
Lets back up a step.
Why would anyone spend valuable time taking your course?
Whether you teach courses within an organization, or offer them online to general consumers, you need to plan, design and launch
courses in such a way that your learners are naturally motivated to take and complete them.
In order to do that, lets look at motivation more closely.

A U T O N O M Y, M A S T E R Y A N D P U R P O S E
Popular belief says that we are motivated by rewards (the carrot) or punishment (the stick). Yet when Daniel Pink did research on
motivation for his 2009 book Drive, he found that people were actually motivated by three things: autonomy, mastery and purpose.
Pink said:
The secret to high performance and satisfactionat work, at school, and at homeis the
deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our
world.
Applying this to online training, here is how we can drive motivation through these three factors:

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1. Autonomy: Provide information, instructions and tools to give your learners autonomy and control over their learning process
2. Mastery: Provide clear ways to show progression of learning, the gaining of skills, and progress in the course
3. Purpose: Provide evidence as to why this training is important, and how it solves important problems that are meaningful to the
learners

Urgency, accountability and relevance


Other factors that are critical to motivation are urgency (why this course must be completed now), accountability (what are the
consequences of finishing or not finishing the course) and relevance (how this course pertains directly to the experience, challenges
and profile of the learners).
I like to visualize the latter two factors on a grid, which I call a Motivation Map.

R E L E VA N C E

Motivation Map

A C C O U N TA B I L I T Y

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Relevance Levers
1. Business case: How does this training program help accomplish the organizational goals for the year?
2. Personal and professional goals: How does this training program help grow or have more options in your career?
3. Ongoing employability: How will this training program better secure your employment?
4. Content that reflects your reality: Do the people and situations contained in the training resonate with you? Do they reflect your
reality?
5. Real examples (before + after): Can you view proof that real people, in similar situations, realized the promise of this training?

Accountability Levers
1. Recognition: Who in your organization notices when you successfully complete the program? How do you get recognized?
2. Compensation: How does reaching your learning goals affect your compensation or bonus?
3. Story: What story about the training will engage both your mind and your emotions?
4. Values: How does learning this skill relate to your personal values? How does it relate to your organizational values?
5. Team spirit: How will completing this program contribute to the success and well-being of your team?
6. Competition: Who else is doing this training program? How do you stack up against the competition?
7. Live support: When you get stuck, what support is in place to get your questions answered immediately?

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Audience analysis:
Discovering and defining relevance
So where do you find the information that relates to the Motivation Map?
The first place to look is your organizations business plan. Here are some
questions to answer related to business objectives, sponsorship and business outcomes. By answering these questions, you will get great information to use in your course communication before, during and after training.

Making the business case: Answer these


brand questions from Everybody Writes
(EverybodyWrites.com) by Ann Handley,
chief content officer of Marketing Profs:
1. What is unique about our business?

BUSINESS OBJECTIVES
What are your annual strategic objectives?
How does this course fit into the objectives?
Why hold this training and why now?
Which positive things will result when training is successfully completed?
Which things will be at risk if the training is not successfully completed?

2. What is interesting about how our business was founded?


3. What problem is our company trying to
solve?
4. What inspired our business?
5. What aha! moments has our company
had?
6. How has our business evolved?
7. How do we feel about our business, our

WHO IS THE SPONSOR?


Who is paying for this training?
What is his or her stake in the outcome?
How can he or she frame the need for this training in a compelling
way?

customers, ourselves?
8. Whats an unobvious way to tell our
story? Can we look to analogy instead of
example?
9. What do we consider normal and boring
that other folks would think is cool?
10. And most important: relay your vision.

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Which business outcomes does it affect?

When in doubt, ask!

What will happen when people learn this skill?


What is the win to the business?

In a recent webinar I conducted with


Citrix on the topic of motivation, I asked

C R E AT I N G A R E L E VA N T A N D E N G A G I N G S T O R Y
ABOUT THE BUSINESS

how many of the 2,000 participants asked


their students why they were taking
their classes. A full 80% of participants did
not. Can you imagine how much more

After you identify specific and tangible business outcomes for your train-

powerful the communication, engagement

ing, you want to wrap this information in a compelling and engaging

strategies and design would be if they had

story. Ann Handley, chief content officer of Marketing Profs, outlines some

this data?

powerful questions to ask about your business to elicit effective and compelling stories.

CAREER GOALS AND PERSONAL OUTCOMES


Another rich place of information that will motivate your learners to complete your course is their personal career goals and outcomes. Answer
these questions about the training:
1. What will change in your life when you learn the skill in this course?
2. Why did you take the course?
3. How will completing this course contribute to your career goals and
aspirations?

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Design for motivation


Once you spend the time to understand the business and personal drivers that will motivate your learners, you can build your online training program. Here are some tips to get
the most out of the design:
1. Create content in small chunks. In todays work and business environments, it is rare
that people have long stretches of time to complete their training. Divide your training
into small chunks (for example, a 5-minute video followed by a few questions) so that
learners can complete lessons in quick batches.
2. Build visual metrics to track progress. On every page of your training, you want to
show progress so that learners are encouraged to keep moving through the materials.
Be sure to choose training software that allows you to show progression through the
course (for example, 30% of course completed with a visible progress line).
3. Use email to encourage and nurture learners. You can build many great bells and
whistles into your online course, but sometimes the motivation problem is that your
learners are not logging in to the program to complete the course. Use email sequences to remind them of the business case.
4. Use strong, clear visual design. Create a style guide, color palette and visual brand
guidelines for your course. Avoid cluttered screens. Use warm and accessible photography (avoid generic stock art).
5. Make it mobile friendly: Most people take training on multiple devices. Be sure to
choose a training software that displays well and functions fully on mobile devices.

How to nurture course engagement


with supplemental emails
Here is an example of an email
sequence that can run parallel to your
course. The number of emails will vary,
depending on the length of the course:
Email #1- Upon course registration:
Welcome to the course! Include registration instructions with screenshots.
Email #2- Compelling message from
the sponsor: Reminder of business case
and benefits of completing the course.
Email #3- Updates and insights from the
course: Answer a common question or
illustrate how to get through a common
challenge in the course.
Email #4- Encouraging message from
the manager: Reminder of why the
course is important.
Email #5- Profile of a typical learner
who got great results completing the
course.
Email #6- You are almost done! Encouragement, establishment of urgency.
Email #7- Congratulations! You did it!
Celebration, reward, recognition or
certificate

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Engaging your learners across


generations
Different generations have different experiences with technology. While
great design crosses generational lines, here are some tips for ensuring
you relate to your entire workforce:

Copywriting expert Sonia Simon, Photo by Jared Goralnick

Copywriting tips from Sonia Simone


Design components that work well for Millennial employees:
1. Deliver content in small chunks.
2. Communicate through photos and video.
3. Use visually rich messaging.
4. Use humor and irony (not easy to do!).
5. Avoid corporate spin use stories.
6. Acknowledge and value participants ideas.

Design components that work well for Gen X and Boomers


(Millennials too):
1. Give clear instructions with screen shots, and a video overview if the
technology tools are new.
2. Use a mix of mediums video, audio, words.
3. Present a mixed level of depth high-level overview with case studies,

If you design and deliver training for


the consumer market, your business
objectives will relate to an individual,
not an organization. Copywriting expert
Sonia Simone from Copyblogger offers
this framework to entice people to sign
up for training:
1. Headline with a benefit: You can do this
more easily and quickly
2. Is this you? Do you struggle with x?
3. This is me (credibility).
4. Here is what you get (details).
5. Provide expected results (benefits,
testimonials).

transcripts and references to further detail.


4. Provide phone or in-person support.

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Strategies for encouraging interaction:


The final piece of the motivation puzzle is using interaction (both online and offline) to increase engagement and motivation. Here are
some suggestions for increasing the interaction in your course:
Mix static content with live calls and webinars.
Create class forums and encourage small group discussions.
Encourage participants to have offline conversations, such as phone calls or in-office study groups.
Set clear course assignments, and ask participants to share their work in progress with each other, if appropriate.
Set office hours or an open Q&A call where participants can ask questions and share successes.

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Summary
Online learning is a modern miracle. It allows us to teach from anywhere, scale training throughout an organization at a fraction of the
cost of live training and reach a global audience with consistent, effective messaging.
Spending time to clearly define the business drivers, accountability strategies and personal motivations of your learners will greatly
influence your success in delivering programs.
With this strong foundation in place, you can work on the fun stuff: writing great content and designing great activities that drive
engagement and depth of learning.
If you have a great case study of what you have done to drive motivation for your online learning programs, or if you have questions or
suggestions, we would love to hear from you! Send an email to support@pamelaslim.com.

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About the Author


Pamela Slim is an award-winning author, speaker and leader in the
new world of work. She spent the first 10 years of her solo practice
as a training and development consultant to large corporations such
as Hewlett-Packard, Charles Schwab and Cisco Systems, where she
worked with thousands of employees, managers and executives.
In 2005, she started the Escape from Cubicle Nation blog, which is
now one of the top career and business sites on the web. She has
coached thousands of budding entrepreneurs in businesses ranging
from martial arts studios to software startups. Her first book, Escape
from Cubicle Nation, won Best Small Business/Entrepreneur Book of
2009 from 800-CEO-READ.
Pams latest bestselling book is Body of Work: Finding the Thread
That Ties Your Story Together. It addresses the key skills required to
be indispensable in todays uncertain work environment.
A proud suburban mom in Mesa, Arizona, Pam enjoys the look on peoples faces when she tells them she is also a black belt in mixed
martial arts. (It comes in handy when fighting for the last good bunch of kale at the grocery store.)
Find Pam at http://www.pamelaslim.com.

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About Citrix GoToTraining

Citrix GoToTraining is the easy-to-use online training service that allows you to move your live instructor-led training programs online.
Hold unlimited online training sessions including HD video conferencing with up to 200 attendees for one low flat fee. Learn
more or start a free trial at www.gototraining.co.uk.

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