We know that one learning intervention is rarely sufficient for employees to improve performance, change behavior or retain new information. It takes varied practice, lots of review and workplace support to become competent in new skills. We also know that it is difficult for employees to find time to engage in long-term learning opportunities.
If we want to be known as an industry that promotes research-based practices, we need alternatives to conventional one-time learning events. What are some ways to continue to provide support within and outside of the workflow after a course is complete? Here are ten possibilities below. Many of these approaches are distributed over time, which takes advantage of spaced learning.
1. INVOLVE MANAGERS
Could this be the most important strategy? When managers support training, rather than seeing it as a separate activity, employees are bound to improve their skills more quickly. How can managers support learning? They can discuss what the individual is learning and provide opportunities aligned with the person’s learning goals. They can provide encouragement and reinforcement and create a learning plan if the employee is interested in following one.
2. CREATE SUPPORT RESOURCES
Whether physical, online or apps, performance support materials close the gap between training and assistance during the flow of work. Job aids are essential when there is a gap between training and use, for skills that are infrequently used and difficult to remember and for dangerous situations. Are resources missing from what you provide? Think of checklists, step-by-step procedures, decision aids, trouble shooting guides, frequently asked questions, scripts and many other formats. Resource: Job Aid Basics
3. INVITE USER-GENERATED CONTENT
Following an instructional event, it is helpful for learners to explain, connect and elaborate on what they have learned. You can find opportunities for this in several ways. If the audience consists of independent learners, then part of the course can require each person to create and give a mini-webinar on topics generated by the group. Another after-training strategy is to provide each participant with a blog in a private group platform. Individuals would be required to write about their experiences and challenges as they are learning a new skill and to comment on each other’s posts.
4. FACILITATE ONLINE DISCUSSIONS/COLLABORATION
Post-training discussion groups are some of the best ways to continue learning. In this approach, the learning experience designer works with a SME to seed the discussion with real-world questions, case studies and problems to solve. If the discussions are relevant, the learners will often take over.
Resource: Social Learning is a Way of Life. Listen or download the transcript.
5. DELIVER EMAIL LESSONS
Write and deliver weekly or bimonthly lessons that extend training. Email is an efficient medium for delivering short lessons. Rather than overwhelm learners with a long course, decompose it so learners can work on the core knowledge and skills during the course and then smaller bits of content via email over time. You may want to include a question for reflection at the end.
Resource: As an example, I have my course, Breaking into Instructional Design, set to deliver two email lessons a week for six weeks.
6. DISTRIBUTE RELEVANT PODCASTS
I know you know this, but podcasts are just audio files. For busy people or those who work out in the field, podcasts may be a better medium to extend training than emails. Use this format to deliver short lectures or interviews with peers and experts. As long as the content doesn’t required visuals, this is a good approach.
7. PROMOTE MENTORING PROGRAMS
Mentoring refers to developing a long-term professional relationship between an experienced guide and a person who is seeking advice and guidance for professional development. Successful mentoring not only helps the mentor and mentee, but it helps organizations maintain and grow their pool of talent.
Resources: The importance of mentors in new hire onboarding. Also: Mentoring Programs that Work.
8. CURATE DIGITAL CONTENT
Collect relevant articles, videos, podcasts, presentations, white papers and similar resources. If you are not familiar with the subject, try to convince SMEs to contribute on a rotating schedule. An effective content curator adds value by organizing the content and adding commentary. Gaining competence in content curation is a Learning and Development skill for the 21st century. Resources: The Power and Practice of Digital Curation and Content Curation for Learning. Listen or download the transcript.
9. BUILD A LEARNING PORTAL
A learning portal, which looks more like a website than an LMS, is a centralized repository of content that employees may need on the job. Portals may contain tutorials, job aids, reference material, policy documents, information graphics and anything that someone may need to get at quickly without registering and going through a course.
10. SEND OUT SLIDEDOCS®
Send short presentations that extend learning to participants on a regular schedule. Slidedocs, a term coined by Duarte Design, are presentations created for reading rather than presenting. You design them in a presentation tool, which allows for easily arranging text and graphics. Then export to a PDF.
Resource: More on Slidedocs.
Think of a course as laying the foundation for continuous learning rather than an end in itself. Base your designs on the advantages of using smaller courses and spaced learning. Remember the importance of human interaction and user-generated materials.
How do you extend learning after a course? Share in the Comments below.