Think back to the last time you were in school. Remember that big final that loomed over your head? Most of your professors were anxiously cramming information into your full head.

Picture the scene: reading through notes, feverishly reviewing chapters, surrounded by candy wrappers and empty coffee cups. Of course, once the test was over, everything you crammed into your brain likely disappeared.

As adults, most of us are now outside of formal education confines, but the task of learning large amounts of information on a regular basis hasn’t changed. We must absorb sales scripts, memorize expense report policies and learn new software. As we move through formal training programs, we become ever more aware that learning through memorization is tedious and ineffective. However, many learning and development (L&D) tactics still depend on forced information dissemination through classrooms and eLearning modules, hoping the “one-and-done” approach will work.

Here, spaced learning through drip feeds enters the picture. The concept itself is not new; however, it is a process rarely used in workplace learning. The evidence suggests that we are better able to recall information, processes or procedures if we learn them in multiple, spaced learning “drips.”

Why Spaced Learning?

The workplace changed significantly in 2020. We saw an increased need to adjust and pivot the business model for success, and business leaders could not wait for L&D to put together a course that may or may not work.

Neuroscience research tells us that an overwhelming amount of information can be too much to grasp and retain, especially for employees who are new and in training (a phenomenon known as cognitive overload). A drip learning system gives organizations the ability to supply training and information to their people in small, digestible bits of information.

Using Spaced Learning to Tell Your Story

Spaced learning, when delivered through drip feeds, involves scheduling the delivery of your content in stages. In fact, you can leverage automation to save time and segment your learning programs, so they reach the right people at the right time.

Delivering a program through spaced drip feeds is like telling a story. Every good storyteller starts by creating anticipation and building momentum to gain and keep interest. The more effective storyteller the person is, the more engaged the audience will be with the learning journey.

As a storyteller and learning professional, you can slow down or speed up the storytelling process to help control timing and flow and build curiosity. Doing so will enable you to regulate the quality and the quantity of the content you provide to your learners.

What Does a Drip Feed Look Like?

Using drip feeds as part of your content delivery strategy is easier than you might think. You can break down the process into four steps.

Step 1: Determine the Delivery Media

Which tools will you use to deliver your drip?

    • Email: Schedule and automate the delivery of email lessons directly to learners’ inbox. Using this process may make email the most reliable choice of communication tool.
    • Blog posts: Many learning management system (LMS) providers include an enterprise social network with the ability to publish blog posts. Rather than writing a blog post, however, write a lesson. Then, schedule notifications for learners.
    • Chatbots: Using a chatbot to deliver microlearning can be successful. People typically open text messages, so you can send a text that links to a lesson or deliver a lesson itself through messages with video or graphic attachments.

Step 2: Create the Course Outline

Before creating a course, be sure you have conducted a proper training needs analysis to ensure you are solving the right problem and presenting your training program to the right people. The good news is that because you are creating a drip feed of content, you do not have to create everything at once. Rather, you can flex and adapt based on feedback and outcomes.

Step 3: Break the Course Into Deliverable Chunks, Using a Variety of Methods to Tell Your Story

There are a range of learning tools you can use to engage employees in the learning process. The drip feed can include video presentations, recorded PowerPoint presentations, workbook chapters, learning games, challenge puzzles, quizzes … and the list goes on. At this point, decide how you will divide the course up into lessons and how many sessions you will include.

Step 4: Determine When You Want the Lessons to Be Available

You can set up the delivery schedule once to deliver lessons automatically. When using an email drip feed, the course could reflect the following outline:

    • Day 1: Send welcome video, introduction, course instruction with course materials, etc.
    • Day 3: Deliver lesson 1 (three videos, a workbook reference, one action item and one knowledge check).
    • Day 7: Deliver lesson 2 (one video, one infographic, a workbook reference and one action item).
    • Day 10: Deliver lesson 3 (two videos, a workbook reference, one action item and one knowledge check).
    • Day 15: Deliver the conclusion (one video, a workbook reference, one action item, one personal planning download and one quiz).
    • Day 20 and beyond: Deliver learning reinforcement (an audio clip reminder, one knowledge check, one resource item and one action item requiring a response).

Your learning reinforcement can last as long as you need it to. For example, a product training program could provide learning reinforcement until the product rollout is complete.

Wrapping It up

Using spaced learning to tell your story through drip feed delivery will help ensure your content is digestible. It will also level the playing field by making sure everyone is receiving content at the same pace. Drip feeds are an ideal delivery method if you have certain training elements that become confusing as you add more lessons or for information that will be more relevant at a future date.

Providing spaced learning through drip feeds might seem complicated, but once you launch your first drip learning program, you’ll never look back. Whether you’re sending your learning through emails or automated blog posts, you will see an increase in learning curiosity and retention and provide real value to the business.

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