How do you motivate your learners? It’s a classic question and one we certainly all want to answer. Usually to answer you go back to the content. Do we need to add voiceover, new graphics, or maybe even a video? Yes, a refresh to the visual appeal of your elearning can make a difference, but what if your learners are never getting to the content in the first place? What if the real problem is how it’s being delivered and you’re losing the learner before you ever had them?

Why your LMS isn’t motivating.

I recently attended a working session and our partner stated something that had me thinking about why the LMS seems to struggle with capturing our learners attention and motivation. She said, “that is the problem with the LMS, we just push everything out and then [the learner is] like ‘I’m sure I’ve covered that’, I’m not going to worry about it.’ If it was a list that they were in control of there is suddenly motivation.”

It’s the difference between push and pull learning. Push learning, often times assigned via LMS, is anything that we to assign our learners, often times from a LMS. Just think about the word ‘push’. It means “to press upon…to move by force; shove”. Push learning works very well for certain material — like compliance training or product certification for a company in a highly regulated industry such as medical device or pharmaceutical. These are assignments that learners need to complete by a certain day and record they have finished it.

Pull, on the other hand, means “to draw toward oneself”. Pull learning is when the learner makes a choice to learn the material. Today, we are all about personalizing and choosing, so it’s no wonder pull learning is more motivating. Which would you rather do at your next conference – eat a box lunch or pick from a menu? Sit in an assigned seat or choose your seat? Pull learning is successful because people want choice. Choice gives the learner a sense of ownership over what they are about to spend their time on and learn. What’s even more critical is that when your learner makes a choice to pull learning material, that material better be full of good information, labeled well, organized, etc. It better be just what they were looking for or the delivery will lose credibility.

Whether you use push or pull learning for your content depends on the goals of the content. Typically, you will have a mix of material that falls in both push or pull learning. If you aren’t currently doing any pull learning, now is the time! As technology becomes more and more adaptable and SaaS products more aligned with learning objectives, you will see more opportunities for pull learning.