Increasing learner engagement is always at the forefront of the instructional design process. Effective course design involves advancing the level of engagement between the instructor, the learner, and the content. These days so much learning is occurring in a virtual space and as a result, the push for more engagement has escalated to new highs.

Although it is a common request for instructional designers, a call to increase the level of engagement in a learning program is a systematic endeavor. Keep in mind, what worked yesterday may not be suitable today, and what succeeds today may not be viable tomorrow.

So how do you tackle this persistent quandary? The answer lies with forming best practices that are mixed with a hefty dose of creativity. Now more than ever, instructional designers have access to easily accessible resources to assist with increasing learner engagement throughout the development phase.

To jumpstart the process, here are three examples of efforts that can be initiated.

Example 1: More video, less show

Engagement increases when video is used as a verb instead of a noun. With this thought in mind, you can incorporate video in your learning as an action item. In place of a written presentation assignment perhaps you can develop a project which requires learners to create their own video content.

One example is a project instructing learners to create an educational broadcast using the week’s topic as the “lead story”. These projects should be quick bites of information (similar to a newsbreak). Advise learners to keep their information concise, limiting the video to three to five minutes long. The final product should be a brief but deep dive into the topic so the learner’s knowledge can be adequately accessed.

Here is an example of this type of project:

Course: Ethics in the Workplace

Topic: Toxic Workplace Cultures

Week Four Assignment: Create a three- to five-minute video describing an example of a toxic workplace culture, as defined in this week’s readings.

Instructions: Upload your video to the Week Four Assignment folder. Videos will be shared during the Week Five live virtual class so synchronous feedback can be provided by the instructor and your peers.

Example 2: I heard it through the Podcast

Incorporating audio into your learning allows learners to engage with their peers, the instructor, and the content in a highly creative manner. This approach is an alternative to the traditional oral presentation.

One specific example would be for an ID to develop an assignment that asks learners to create an original audio recording in response to a query of a specific topic. The learner will record their audio in a podcast-style format. Their audio should not exceed three minutes and should be presented as an informational piece or a “Did you know?” segment.

Here is an example of this type of project.

Course: Professional Ethics in the Workplace

Topic: Unethical Behavior

Week Five Assignment: Describe an example of unethical behavior in the workplace. Your answer should also explain the consequences someone could face when engaging in this type of behavior. Deliver your answer via an audio recording that should not exceed three minutes. The format should be similar to you being a host of a podcast. As mentioned in last week’s class, remember to begin your audio with “Did you know?” or “Do you know?”

Instructions: Upload your recorded audio (mp3 format only) to this week’s Discussion Board. Listen to all of the submissions and reply to at least two of your peers with a brief review of their audio segments

Example 3: Lights, camera, online!

Online learning is not limited to the virtual four walls of a learning management system. The classroom space has gone social with the help of resources like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. A growing list of instructors are discovering how holding synchronous and asynchronous classes via a social media platform can increase the engagement level between them, their learners, and the content.

One way to add social media to your learning is to “go live” with your resource of choice. IDs can design a learning module that enables instructors to host live classes or hold virtual office hours to allow learners the opportunity to engage in a socially collaborative experience.

Here is an example of this particular initiative.

Course: Professional Ethics in the Workplace

Topic: Ethics and the Law

Week Six Virtual Class: This week’s class will be delivered via an Instagram Live session on Wednesday, from 8 pm to 9 pm EST. We will be joined by a guest speaker, Attorney Alfred Pennyworth.

Instructions: Log into Instagram and navigate to the course IG page. Five minutes prior to the start of the class, click on the image in the Bio area to join the live session.

*If you are unable to attend the live class, the recorded event will be posted in IG for a week.


The three examples provided are a mere sampling of ways to increase learning engagement. The resources listed are generally familiar to a wide audience. They are also quite user-friendly. Instructional designers can incorporate video, audio, or social media into their next development, or consider other viable options. Whatever the decision, the ultimate focus is to develop engaging learning experiences.