Nine techniques to maximise eLearning retention rates

Tue 02 May 2023

As our lives have adapted around technology, the past few years have seen a rise in eLearning as a way to learn new skills and knowledge.

The convenience of eLearning and its adaptability for professionals means it has become a go-to choice for many businesses and individuals to upskill and retrain.

Compared to traditional, face-to-face courses which see retention rates of around 8-10%, eLearning has retention rates of up to 60%. This means that eLearning is a more effective method for training courses - but only if eLearning is used effectively!

This blogpost will discuss how learning and development professionals can use eLearning effectively to improve retention rates.

Create engaging and interactive content

In order for eLearning to be effective, it is crucial that the content is engaging and interactive. You can break up your content into digestible sections with some of the following multimedia eLearning features:

  • Quizzes
  • Videos
  • Simulations
  • Graphics
  • Images
  • Discussions
  • Badges
  • Leader boards. 

Numerous studies show that interactivity increases knowledge retention compared to traditional learning methods. Incorporating interactivity into your eLearning will significantly improve learning retention rates leading to a more successful learning course. 

Provide clear instructions

Your eLearning design should be clear, concise and easy to navigate. When learners are unsure of what is expected of them, they can become frustrated, demotivated and confused. This can lead to a decrease in retention and an unsuccessful eLearning course. 

Your eLearning content should contain clear instructions and learning objectives, with a course facilitator regularly checking in to ensure learners are on track and aware of their progress. When learners aren’t confused, they can focus more of their attention on learning rather than figuring out what to do next.

Gamification techniques improve eLearning retention

Learning is most effective when it is fun! Using gamification techniques means learners can tap into their competitive nature and gain recognition from course facilitators. Amongst their peers, learners can feel more motivated to compete, so they may concentrate more of their efforts on learning as much as possible. 

Here are some useful gamification technique course developers can incorporate during the design and development process:

Gamification techniques:

  • Time-based challenges 
  • Badges and certificates
  • Real life scenario simulations
  • Social learning competitions
  • Point systems and leader boards
  • Progress bars and visual feedback
  • Personal learning paths.

Here are a few eLearning gamification platforms you can use:


A learning platform focused on language games. The platform uses points, badges, leader boards and virtual currency to keep learners motivated. 


Codecademy makes coding fun with points, badges, certificates and leader boards which keeps learners alert and motivated.

Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a free, online platform which uses gaming to motivate learners and encourage fun learning techniques. 


Classcraft offers low-stakes, formative assessments for learners to promote positive attitudes to learning. 


Quizlet tests learners' knowledge through interactive, gamified features such as quizzes and flashcards. It is perfect for memorisation to increase learner retention.

Personalised learning experiences in eLearning design

eLearning is a great tool for offering a personalised learning experience. Every learner has different needs and learning styles. 

As a learning and development manager, it is important to ensure eLearning courses are personalised and targeted to suit the needs of different learners.

When learners have their learning needs met, they are more likely to concentrate on the content of the course and are less likely to become confused or disengaged. 

Provide regular feedback

Regular feedback during eLearning allows for learners to understand their progression and identify areas of improvement. This means that they can assess their progress and determine where to focus their efforts to gain the necessary knowledge and meet the online learning objectives. 

Regular positive and constructive feedback can keep learners motivated and engaged to continue learning, therefore improving retention. 

Foster a sense of community to improve eLearning retention 

When students experience a sense of community and connection to their peers and instructors, they are more likely to pay more attention, feel comfortable answering questions and be engaged during the online course. 

There are a few ways to foster a sense of community during eLearning courses, such as:

  • Introductions
  • Discussion forums
  • Collaborative projects
  • Virtual classrooms.

Community environments can make learners feel valued and supported through the learning process, leading to a more successful course. 

Increase eLearning retention by offering support and resources

Online learning can be challenging for many learners, and without adequate support and resources, learners can feel confused. These resources can be learning materials, videos, feedback and regular chats with instructors. 

Instructors should be able to provide quick support to learners to answer any necessary questions and maintain their motivation. Waiting too long for a response can make learners feel demotivated and worried about their learning.

Proper support means learners can stay on track with their learning and succeed at their course. 

Set realistic expectations

Learners should be able to regularly reflect on their course objectives to ensure they are on track. If instructors set unrealistic expectations for learners, learners can become demotivated and feel their goals are too aspirational for them. 

Rather, it is more effective to set realistic expectations of learners so that they feel motivated to achieve a knowledge level that they know they are capable of reaching. More aspirational goals could be reserved for a future eLearning course, once learners have put the knowledge of their first online training course into practice. 

Measure and analyse retention rates

Analysis and tracking progress can allow instructors to identify patterns and trends in the eLearning project to improve the performance of learners. This allows instructors to provide targeted support and make any changes that need to be made. 

Additionally, instructors can identify any knowledge gaps that learners may have, and recap any necessary topics to ensure a high learner retention. 

Enrol in our Digital Learning Design course today to progress your Learning and Development career.

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