How - and why! - to give your learners more autonomy

January 24, 2022

You’re much more likely to engage with activities you have chosen to do rather than ones you feel forced into. Agree? 

Autonomy is the first ingredient of intrinsic motivation (along with mastery and purpose). Give learners a sense of autonomy when it comes to learning, and you’re more likely to get engagement. 

So how can you create autonomy for employees in the learning experiences you design? Here are three tips:


1: Make optional learning the norm

Picture the scene. You get an impersonal LMS notification. It tells you to complete some elearning (that you weren’t expecting) within the next 21 days. Not much room for autonomy there.

What if instead you got a notification recommending a resource that’s super relevant to your role and a current challenge you’re facing. No prescribed time limit. Just an offer of something that could help you achieve your goals this month? This creates a true ‘pull, not push culture’.



2.  Create learning so good that people want to do it

For non-compliance learning, focus on creating digital learning experiences that are so good that your learners choose to work through them. Aim for the same standard with compliance training too.

You only need to look at the success of platforms offering consumer-grade learning content like Masterclass, Udemy, Coursera and LinkedIn Learning for proof that people seek out and pay for online education when the quality is high.

We know this is easier said than done! If you need some help to raise the bar of your learning design then we’re here for you. Let’s chat!


3: Give learners choice within the learning experience.

Even if your learning is compliance based and everyone really does have to do it, you can still enhance the level of autonomy with choice. 

What if your compliance learning included an element of choice — jump straight to the test if you know your stuff or choose to refresh your memory with the content first. Forcing everyone through the same path only removes their autonomy. Allow them a choice and they’re much more likely to pay attention. 

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