Corporate learning is undergoing a revolution. The changing workforce demography, coupled with a dynamic market for products and services is changing the way learning is viewed. A lot of corporates are increasingly shifting towards learning platforms and software that enable them to personalize the learning experience for their employees.
Personalization of learning has been proved to be a major indicator of training success. A recent study by Brandon Hall Group, 90% of companies agree that personalized learning supports continuous development and 93% of companies agree that personalized learning helps employees reach their goals efficiently.
Personalization of learning ensures that employees get trained on what they actually want to learn about, rather than being forced fed information. Just like Amazon or Netflix recommends products or content on the basis of a customer’s browsing history and interests, organizations are also keen on providing learning content that is actually wanted by their employees. After thorough research, learning content is presented according to the preferences, skills and knowledge gaps of a particular employee, which ensures a higher level of engagement and participation in making training a success.
Traditional training is also getting replaced by microlearning in organizations. The cost involved in carrying out webinars or lectures is huge, with little or nothing being retained by employees. Presenting a lot of untargeted information in one go does not help achieve training objectives. Listening to one expert talk for hours over two to three days is probably only going to invite eye-rolls from employees, rather than making them skilled. This is why microlearning is preferred, as it not only reduces the cost of delivering training, but also makes it much more effective. In microlearning, content is presented in the form of short nuggets, which is visually stunning and delivered directly to mobile devices.
Microlearning breaks topics down into tiny pieces. It aids the learning process by catering to the human brain’s capacity to learn and retain short, digestible chunks of engaging content. The human brain responds faster to less information being repeated overtime as opposed to overwhelming it with large volumes of knowledge in one go. Learners are then repeatedly tested on these topics. The results of these assessments are analysed in order to identify knowledge gaps.
Microlearning analytics also help L&D professionals get a better glimpse of what are the preferences and topics of interest to each individual learner. Data answers questions related to how does the employee learn (visual/audio/hands on activities), what is his learning speed, and what he actually wants to learn more of. Based on this data, content is repeatedly shown to him over a period of time in different formats. This helps in reinforcing the same knowledge, without being pushy or increasing the cognitive load on the brain. This is what is known as spaced repetition.
The concept of spaced learning is not new. It goes way back to the 1950’s when Harvard psychologist BF Skinner created a “teaching machine.” This machine required students to master a sequence of very small steps in order to learn a complicated process. The same behavioral principles are being adopted in today’s corporate training systems. This is done by breaking lessons into smaller parts, focusing deeply on each step and testing the learner multiple times along the way to ensure retention.
There have been several studies to prove the efficiency of spaced learning. Kristine Bloom and Thomas Shuell were the two scientists who studied this concept. In their experiment, they taught 20 new vocabulary words to two groups of students. One group focused on learning in one continuous 30-minute session and the other group spent time learning in 10 minute sessions over three consecutive days. They took a test four days after the lessons and found that the group that learned in shorter training sessions over 3 days was able to remember 15 words correctly, as opposed to the group with only one session remembered only 11.
Microlearning relies on this concept of spaced learning or distributed learning. This enables the less attentive human brain to actually retain critical concepts. In spaced repetition, refreshers are deployed from time to time post training happens. This helps learners stay in touch with the curriculum. These can be in the form of videos, assessments, tips and tricks or messages that are pushed out to learners at regular intervals to facilitate higher retention of concepts.
Repetition ensures that learners remember key concepts and actually apply that while on the job. By providing short doses of microlearning that focuses on the same concept, learners can solidify their grip over the training material. This is coupled with powerful engagement techniques such as gamification, friendly competition, incentives, rewards and the like, repetition can be made interesting to look forward to, rather than a compulsion.
Microlearning can help L&D experts review the training by analyzing the performance of employees at individual and cumulative levels. Trainers can also use microlearning to personalize further and review existing learning programs, provide reference tools by adding them in the knowledge repositories, or develop performance dashboards for employees, teams or specific locations. All of this is completely customizable and flexible, depending on the learning objectives that need to be achieved.
Because of all these features and advantages, more and and more corporates are resorting to spaced learning as a tool for personalized learning. Every individual learner is unique and have a different need to work on. Spaced repetition and personalized training helps the employee achieve that.