The global training market is worth $200 billion per year, yet it’s been struggling with effectiveness since its inception. The value proposition isn’t a hard sell: good training makes workers feel like they’re progressing in their career, which in turn makes them more productive and loyal to the business. Yet all too often, training is ineffective due to factors like inconvenience, irrelevance and lack of engagement.
The good news is that things are changing. Smartphone saturation has enabled a less-formal channel for engaging with employees, and forward-thinking businesses are embracing the benefits.
Traditionally, company training has been a logistical headache. Corralling a workforce (who could be located across multiple states or countries) into a single location and delivering a one-size-fits-all, lecture-based session to an audience of individuals with different roles and propensities for absorbing new information made it incredibly complex for management to administer.
The move to eLearning, while removing many logistical hurdles, introduced its own problems. Sitting in front of an hour-long computer course is commonly regarded as a chore that must be fitted in around ‘real work’. Courseware is often generic and content is only sporadically relevant. Not surprisingly, eLearning course completion rates (that aren’t tied to bonus payments and other incentives) typically struggle to surpass 15 per cent.
A superior solution has emerged in the form of microlearning. This is where training is delivered in short, easily digestible bursts. Combining microlearning with mobile has created one of the most exciting changes in learning and development in decades, and enlightened institutions are coming to realise that delivering work-related content via these powerful, highly personal devices makes a great deal of sense.
Microlearning is such an effective method of training as it works with the limitations of the human brain. Short-term memory can only store up to five new pieces of information before it is overwritten, so focussing on just a few core topics – and then reinforcing them – means knowledge transfer has a far greater likelihood of embedding in long-term memory.
As an industry, we’re still exploring the different ways that microlearning can be implemented, but some of the initial formats have proven to be hugely helpful for organisations across the board. Just-in-time training is a highly practical format that delivers brief training content minutes before it’s needed. Salespeople, for example, could learn about prospective clients or refresh on negotiation techniques in the car outside an imminent meeting. Another type is peer learning, whereby workers teach their colleagues; having an experienced hand creating (or helping to create) a short, topical lesson makes for training that is highly relatable. Spaced repetition is another highly effective form of learning whereby students revise lessons at increasing intervals until the knowledge is embedded – something that isn’t practical with long, eLearning courses, but is perfectly suited to learning on the smartphone.
Gamification is yet another exciting development that has proven to be a game-changer for company training programmes. At the heart of this is incentivisation: giving workers motivation to not only complete the course, but apply themselves to completing the questions and activities to the best of the ability. There are a number of ways this can be implemented. In its simplest form, scores and timers can be assigned to the course, which literally turns it into a game. This can be boosted with leaderboards to make learning competitive among individual employees, and prizes provide even further incentive – and these can be anything from coffee vouchers to airline points.
Microlearning is already a fully fledged, crucial part of the corporate learning structures in North America and Europe, and thankfully Australia isn’t far behind. This shouldn’t be surprising considering the widescale, multi-regional layout of many Australian SMBs and enterprises.
The massive boost in course completion rates shows us that microlearning works. EdApp delivers around 30,000 lessons per day across more than 30 countries, and we frequently sees completion rates span between 80 and 100 per cent depending on industry and subject matter – a big jump from the sub-15 per cent that is the norm for eLearning. It’s typically used for
This style of learning isn’t limited to knowledge workers: we’ve seen it implemented successfully in everything customer-facing retail environments through to management trainee programmes for global enterprise. Danish jewellery store, Pandora, uses microlearning to train mobile-savvy Christmas casual-staff each year when the shopping boom comes; new workers aren’t allowed to be customer-facing until they’ve performed their customer service and product knowledge courses. It’s also flexible enough to be used for on-boarding, soft skills and competency development, as well as informing employees about the latest product releases, practices and policies.
Company training has frequently received a bad rap from management and staff alike – and with good reason. But emerging concepts like microlearning and the ability to deliver this experience to a learner’s personal device means company training can not only be highly effective but highly engaging. Putting employees at the centre of their own learning experience, and providing them with the flexibility to learn at their own pace and on their own device, is the direction that company training needs to follow, and we’re excited to see how this sector develops as new technologies like AI, predictive analytics, and mixed reality form part of the mix.