The world has witnessed unprecedented changes due to the pandemic. Businesses have been affected on a global scale: Those operating through the new normal a year ago have now embraced it as a way of life defined by remote working, hybrid work and more.
Learning and development (L&D) professionals worldwide know that the old methods of embedding knowledge are no longer as effective as they used to be — many external factors have now significantly impacted the way employees improve their knowledge.
Can training take a backseat in this new reality? The answer is no. Training is now more paramount than ever before.
Learners must now manage new events and situations which never would have arisen earlier. Teams need to be abreast of the latest updates, procedures, policies and best practices.
Training once a month or once a quarter will not work. Many organizations need more employees to be trained daily. However, getting employees to learn daily is easier said than done.
And employees will not enjoy a daily dose of training unless it is bite-sized, relevant, fun and something that can help them in the moment of need.
Microlearning fits the bill perfectly and can be used to create continuous learning journeys that help your learners develop themselves continuously.
What is a Continuous Learning Journey?
To put it simply, apart from the core training that learners partake in, they also need repetition to help them remember the concepts.
Why does training need to be repeated in smaller doses? The reason is the forgetting curve.
People either ignore or forget a large amount of data. The forgetting curve explains how people tend to forget the material they learned over a period of time. For example, seven days after a given training, the learner will retain less than 20 percent of what he or she learned.
Training programs need to be designed to allow for continuous learning by reinforcing the key information in smaller bites. Periodic reinforcement through regular interventions using smaller “learning nuggets” helps bridge the gap created by the forgetting curve.
Continuous learning helps learners recall their training and apply it on the job.
Delivering Better Experiences That Lead to Better Retention of Learning
Traditionally, we have used printed job aids and displayed them in work areas, and it has worked! However, today’s learners must internalize a lot more information than will fit on a flyer to keep pace with the competition. Being digitally savvy, they prefer the learning to be available at their convenience — at the workplace or outside. They can learn while they are commuting to the office or in the field waiting for customers. Learning must be made available to them at their fingertips.
So, how are the typical learning programs rolled out?
For example, an induction program will have a combination of instructor-led training or virtual training and eLearning. They are all combined over two to seven days or more in some industries. After the induction program is completed, the participants are handed reading material and expected to know and understand the materials without any other intervention.
Another example would be that of new people managers. They are provided with classroom or eLearning material and expected to manage people efficiently immediately after that.
Is he or she ready immediately after a course to manage people efficiently?
As mentioned earlier, after a week or so, the learner tends to forget the majority of their training — but they are still expected to be optimally efficient. That can lead to a mismatch of expectations.
To address the challenge, the L&D or HR teams must get in the driver’s seat and continuously equip learners with what they need. This is where continuous learning helps in bridging the gap.
How to Deliver Continuous Learning Experiences
When you build new programs or revise your existing programs, consider continuous reinforcement using microlearning approaches:
- Before and after the training for easy consumption.
- Build them quickly with a focus on real-time applications.
- Sustain that for a specified period to help learners build mastery.
- Ensure availability on any device.
Next, we will see how microlearning interventions can be designed and delivered as part of the continuous learning journey.
Various forms of microlearning interventions include:
- Learning Nuggets: Bite-sized interventions, each addressing one learning objective. There can be multiple learning nuggets for a specific competency.
- Learning Activities: Trigger activities such as going through a PDF and answering a question, researching a topic and submitting a note on the topic. You can also add crossword puzzles or other brain teasers to the mix.
- Videos: Videos built using infographics, motion graphics or with whiteboard animation.
- Questions: Two to three questions per learning nugget. Also, stand-alone quizzes to support the learning.
- Game-based Activities: One game-based activity per competency per level (so to attain a level, one game-based activity can be designed).
Continuous learning can also be implemented as memory boosters (short nuggets based on the courses that are administered earlier). These features are generally available in LMSs, LXPs and microlearning platforms, and can be utilized by organizations to implement microlearning and continuous learning journeys.
An Example of Continuous Learning
Induction and onboarding are crucial for an employee to understand an organization’s culture, its products and services, organization structure, policies and so on. Employees can’t remember everything they heard in the induction and onboarding sessions.
However, induction and onboarding are crucial for employees to feel at home and get the right perspective about organizational work practices. This lays the foundation for employee satisfaction and performance in the long run.
This is where the continuous learning concept can be implemented using microlearning interventions. Microlearning nuggets that talk about the key people of the organization and its key processes can be provided as reinforcement to help the employees recall the information.
These best practices can help to ensure that continuous learning journeys are the way forward in optimal training delivery that leads to better learning and better retention of concepts, thereby leading to better application of learning.