Published: November 13, 2017 | Comments
Many training conferences happen in the fall, and they are always followed by lots of blog posts reflecting on what people learned. In reading one this morning, the author was blown away by all the things she learned at a conference that caused her to rethink what training was all about. That got me thinking about what a few of the current trends in training. I made a short list and will cover them here, but of course, there are many more.
Smaller is Better
You may have heard the term “microlearning.” The definition differs from person to person, but it’s generally thought to be short bursts of training that are focused on a single subject. I’ve heard lengths from 3 minutes to 2 hours(!) for microlearning. But the point is that shorter, more focused training can be very efficient, cost-effective, and learning-effective.
Contact Centers, of course, love the idea of microlearning because it does not take as much time to deliver, and getting agents off the phones (or other channels) for training is always challenging, so shorter is better for scheduling. Microlearning can be either instructor-led or elearning, but we must still take care to craft an effective training experience and not just toss a lot of “junk” out there. I sometimes find myself repeatedly taking more and more material out of the training to make it more focused, and that takes a bit of time.
Ditch the Learning Objectives
This is one of my favorite training trends. I always hated having to listen to the instructor read out a list (while I read the same thing on the slide) of five or six (or more!) formally-worded learning objectives for the training that I was about to sit through. It’s a strange strategy to put participants’ brains to sleep at the very beginning of training. It turns out, training participants need to know what the training is about, but they do not need learning objectives. Give them an agenda, so they know what to expect and move on. The people who need learning objectives are the learning designers and sometimes, too, the people who decide to send someone to training. But learners do not need them. If you have to include them, reword them into natural, straightforward language that sounds interesting and exciting.
I’m pleased to see this technique mentioned more and more frequently in social media and blogs. It seems to have moved out of academic discussions into more day-to-day talks on how to practically apply the technique.
Learning requires repetition in different ways, and when you space out that repetition, it becomes even more effective.
This may mean sending out (via email, social media, or just by posting it on a wall in the work area) a daily reinforcement question for the week after training, or it may mean revisiting content every hour or two during training. I often refer to the latter as stepped learning since each piece of content builds on the previous material, allowing the previous content to be repeated and reinforced. Even if the content is not stepped, going back and reviewing earlier content (in different ways) helps strengthen all of the content and helps participants remember it longer. The key is never to go more than two days without revisiting the previous material.
Digital is King
Digital content is any content that is stored and broadcast digitally. This includes ebooks, interactive graphics, blog posts, videos, and social media, among other forms. Two key points about it that I see concerning training are:
1. Make it less formal to feel more authentic. In other words, talk/write like a person rather than like a scholar or a “stuffed shirt.” More formal digital content feels too smooth and constructed—and thereby less “real”—then when it is more informal and personable. That informality and personality help make the content feel more real and thereby, more trustworthy.
2. Put it where people spend time rather than isolating it somewhere like an LMS. If people spend time on the company’s internal website, then make the digital content easily accessible from there. Put content where people will find it rather than making them look for it—because many will not go look.
These are all good trends, and research is proving them effective. How do these trends—and the many other trends that are out there—impact your training program? How do you use these to make your training more effective? What other training trends would you like to explore? Let me know in the comments.