The Power Of Learner Curiosity In Online Training

As Walt Disney so aptly put it: "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths". Curiosity is what drives us to explore new ideas and learn about ourselves and the world around us. In this article, I'll share 4 tips for how eLearning professionals can facilitate learner curiosity in their online training course design and delve into its many benefits.

We are all born curious, but over time that trait tends to diminish and we simply stop questioning why things are the way they are. Busy schedules, everyday worries, and a general lack of interest prevent us from exploring and seeking out truths that can expand our horizons. As eLearning professionals, we have the rare opportunity to facilitate learner curiosity in our online training courses and to get our corporate learners motivated, involved, and interested in the online training process. Here are 3 of the benefits that learner curiosity can bring, as well as 4 tips that can help you harness the power of curiosity in your corporate eLearning experiences.

3 Benefits Of Learner Curiosity

  1. Encourages intrinsic motivation.Curiosity is one of purest forms of intrinsic motivation, because it is an innate human trait. It fuels employees to do their best and explore new ideas just for the sake of expanding their professional knowledge base. They don't need any rewards to pursue their goals and actively participate in the online training course because their curiosity propels them forward.
  2. Improves knowledge retention.When corporate learners are curious about a concept or idea they will naturally want to learn more about it. This improves knowledge retention because they aren't being forced into mastering the new task or skill. They also tie the online training experience to favorable emotions, as they are participating of their own free will, which further improves comprehension and retention. Curiosity is one of the main reasons why informal learning experiences are so effective.
  3. Builds lateral thinking skills. Curiosity encourages us to dive into new topics, but it also allows us to analyze and reflect upon our current problem solving approaches. In many instances, we discover new ways to remedy common issues or tackle everyday challenges throughout the online training course. In addition, we encounter a wide range of other questions and ideas while we are exploring a new concept. All of these processes improve our lateral thinking skills and help us to "think outside the box".

4 Tips To Pique Learner Curiosity In Online Training

  1. Challenge their current assumptions. Every member of your corporate audience has their own belief system, opinions, and assumptions. These core ideologies play a major role in the online training process, as they often create barriers which must be overcome in order to achieve the overall goals. However, if you ask thought provoking questions and encourage your corporate learners to question their current assumptions and beliefs you remove all the hurdles standing in their way. They begin to think with open minds and respect the fact that everyone has their own unique perspective. More importantly, they understand that their long held ideas and opinions may not be in-line with their objectives, and can make the necessary adjustments to adapt.
  2. Encourage them to question everything. Questions are the vehicle for curiosity. As children we ask questions about virtually everything, much to the dismay of our parents, but this is how we learn more the world and our place within it. Encourage your corporate learners to question the subject matter by integrating brief reflection breaks into your online training strategy. Prompt them to probe into every aspect of the concept or task, or provide them with a list of questions to get them started. It's wise to take on the role of facilitator rather than instructor during this process, as it gives employees the opportunity to explore on their own and take their time researching the answers.
  3. Cultivate a strong and supportive learning culture. Corporate learners are more likely to be curious if you develop a learning culture that is encouraging and supportive. In essence, you must let them know that they are free to be curious and to seek out answers to their pressing questions. Create a list of guidelines that stresses the importance of being curious during the online training sessions, and offer them an updated list of resources they can use to learn more about the topic. Develop an online forum or social media group where they can post questions, links, and ideas that indulge their curiosity.
  4. Include a diverse range of online training activities. Boredom is the arch nemesis of curiosity. When an online training session is tedious, dry, or dull, our level of curiosity slowly but surely declines. This is why it's essential to include a wide variety of online training activities for your employees. You should also cater to all learning needs, such as including interactive presentations for kinesthetic and visual learners, as well as text-based tutorials for those who prefer to read their way through the online training course. If possible, give your employees the power to choose their own activities and personal online training paths so that they can make the most of their curiosity. For example, if they feel as though an online scenario will allow them to dive into the task more effectively, they can take the route. On the other hand, those who prefer to take a more hands-off approach can watch an eLearning video and focus on absorbing the online training content.

Everyone experiences different levels of curiosity, depending on their personality, previous experience, background, and a wide range of other factors. However, by using these 4 tips you can pique the curiosity of every member of your audience, even if they may not consider themselves to be the inquisitive type.

Curiosity fuels employees to do their best and this is one of purest forms of intrinsic motivation. Read the article 6 Tips To Add Intrinsic Motivators In Online Training to learn how you can add intrinsic motivators into your online training program.