A combination of videos, bite-sized learning units, interactivity and gamification are four must have elements in modern online learning 2019!
By Lone Tjustrup Olufsen, MarCom Consultant, lto@uQualio.com
Videos, bite-sized learning units, interactivity and gamification
Founded on the newest insights and research within learning innovation, it’s clear that bite-sized learning units, that offers short video instructions and have elements of interactivity, is a strong guarantee for the highest possible learning effect for multiple types of learners – academic as well as non-academic. In addition, as a producer of learning content, the bite-sized educational approach with short videos, makes it extremely easy and fast to create and edit content. Finally, a video combined with engaging gamification elements can make it even fun to learn – learn faster – and increase impact even further! As a learning professional you will most likely be dealing with busy time-pressurized learners who are trying to manage their business affairs while taking a course and the bite-sized approach makes it more attractive for your learners to learn.
Micro-learning – the latest buzzwords
In the eLearning and instructional design realm, Micro-learning is the latest buzzword. Micro-learning refers to an educational approach that offers bite-sized, small learning units with just the necessary amount of info to help learners achieve a goal1. According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, learning in bite-sized pieces makes the transfer of learning from classroom to the desk 17% more efficient. Because each chunk of learning content addresses only 1-2 learning objectives. Traditional courses yield 4-5 learned take-aways1.
Video is an essential learning technology
For decades videos have proven to increase learning and appeal to a diverse group of learners. Today we have very good evidence for how to create a video to improve learning. Maybe the biggest empirical study to date with data from 6.9 mil. video watching2, shows that less than 6 minutes is the optimal length for instructional videos. At 5 minutes the video watching begins decreasing. Another newer study showed that the value of video for learning effectiveness was contingent upon the provision of interactivity. Students in the e-Learning environment that provided interactive video achieved significantly better learning performance and higher level of learning satisfaction than in other settings3.
All in all, video is an essential learning technology; Listening and watching instead of reading, videos support different learning styles and are especially good for non-academic learners. But the videos need to be designed the right way.
By Kent Valentin Fallesen, CEO at uQualio
1. Turn your videos into learning
YouTube is increasingly used for a source of tutorials, “how tos” and acquiring skills. Because videos - when kept short with clear messages - are ideal for “bite-sized” learning, which has been proved highly efficient, compared to traditional training courses.
However, watching videos does not automatically guarantee learning. To ensure the optimal comprehension and mastering of the material in the videos, and hence actual learning, you need to add in functionality like practice and social interaction.
With a social learning platform, which incorporates video material, gamification and social sharing you can optimize learning speed and impact.
As a major bonus, the publisher of a learning campaign can follow data indicating the progress of each student and to communicate and facilitate learning based on this data.
2. Offer learning as a 24/7 resource
As with YouTube, we know that users expect accessibility 24/7 – and that goes for learning as well. You can’t make users wait until you have planned next face-to-face course – they want and expect learning on demand. Available online, where and when it suits them. That’s why an online learning platform is the basic conditioning for efficient training.
When you have your online learning platform, you can reap the benefits of effective onboarding, long term learning, marketing and compliance documentation.
Organizations need to adapt to changes – fast. And the larger an audience you want to influence with your training, the more complex it will be. Speed and agility are important factors. Rather than plan and wait for months to facilitate learning material and courses, you want training ready and deployed in minutes.
This is why video material is becoming increasingly popular in training – Video production and modification is within reach for most organizations within a reasonable budget. Basically, all you need is a phone of a certain quality.
With videos, an online, easy-to-manage social learning platform, can facilitate getting your online training up and running in less than 30 minutes.
Don’t have individual e-mail or phone number for each of your employees? Not a problem with a modern, social learning platform. If a person is on a social media – then they can access your platform and receive targeted training segmented by your organization management.
4. The social marketing ‘side effect’ of training
Companies who rely on sales partners like distributors, agents, resellers, retailers, rely heavily on influencing the sales or customer service reps of their partner.
There’s no argument that training is key to ensuring that your partners are sufficiently equipped to sell your product against competitors, but with traditional training courses the process is costly, tedious and simply not efficient, and often not “allowed” by the partner.
Only an online learning platform can ensure that your partners are trained in selling your product in a timely, comprehensible and cost-efficient manner. And it can be argued, that it is beneficial to all parties involved.
When you facilitate online training for partner reps and make them knowledgeable within your product while applying gamification to the process by available badges and sharing of test scores, then they will not only be experts on selling your product – they will also act as promoters of your product when they share their training progress on social media.
5. Trained customers = loyal customers
Customer loyalty is part of the strategy for all successful companies. But probably only a few has taken the advantage of training to accomplish happy users, who become product advocates.
Here’s an example: you’re a software company offering a SaaS tool for supporting business processes. You will probably focus on offering competitive license prices to suit the market. Hence, spending too many resources on customer support is not an option if you want good business despite competitive prices.
So, you want – no, you need – skilled users of your product in order to make good business.
When you train users in using your product correctly and skillfully and are informed about new features, they are more likely to be happy, knowledgeable and cheaper to support.
Add in the social marketing aspect above – you may even have them advocate your product by sharing how great they have become in using your product.
Overall aspects on performance and approach
A modern social learning platform has to perform in such a way, that it is easily accessible, intuitive and easy to use on a smartphone, and has to be based on videos to motivate for more effective learning.
The methods of using shorter videos, exercises, tests, and community gamification are motivating and create high degree of comprehension and combined with dynamic communication with users it can provide maximized impact.
By offering academies based on micro-learning, the academies can be launched quickly and be updated rapidly, and hereby support corporations ability to provide learning, motivate and act agile and quickly, and at the same time have real-time documentation at hand.
Why you should be using microlearning
The use of mobile devices have in recent years grown beyond predictions, and corporations need to take into account new ways about training. People not only want to be "trained" - they want to educate themselves and have access to the knowledge they need, when they need or want it, in ways they like and on all the devices they are using.
The quality of content is as important as always. But how it is served, should match how people prefer to learn and what is most effective. Microlearning fulfills both. And has additional benefits for the publisher of the microlearning. They do not have to cost a fortune and using the right software platform, it is easy and fast to create and update.
And why is it so popular? Because of its basic concept - Microlearning consists of small bite-sized chunks of learning - Topics - that are easily accessed and comprehended.
Academies and target groups
The first step when considering an academy, should always be the purpose of the academy. It sounds obvious, but in practice it may become a bit complex and difficult to define. In overall terms the purpose of the academy should be based on one or several learning goals and the group targeted. In this way an academy typically makes microlearning available:
The academy in itself is a collection of learning content versions and can, if the content is related, represent a learning path or considered similar as a faculty, comprising one subject area, or a number of related subject areas.
An academy could be provided for an overall target group such as your customers, users of your products, resellers/sales partners, or employees, and be further segmented. With resellers based on geography, size, products the resellers sell or implement for you, type of employees - sales people, sales managers, project managers, just to name a few examples.
The target group and the learning goals are interdependent of each other, since it is a group of people you want to help to reach a certain competence level within a certain field. So you might see it like these 3 examples:
1. Reseller academy
Goal: To increase leads and potentially your sales revenue.
To achieve these goals the academy should publish learning content which make the sales people, working for your resellers, more knowledgeable about key features and benefits of a specific or several products, hereby increasing their mindshare and become better at promoting your products to their customers.
2. Customer academy
Goal: To create "ambassadors" and to increase the probability for reaching your long term sales goals.
To achieve these goals the academy should publish learning content which make users of your products, working for you customers, better at using your products e.g. software, and hereby increasing their competence level and satisfaction with you as a supplier.
3. Employee academy
Goal: To reduce amounts of deaths in the workplace.
To achieve these goals the academy should publish learning content which shows which situations could be dangerous, show certain procedures to follow, how to act when accidents happen, hereby increasing their competence level to avoid and handle dangerous situations. In this last example especially microlearning can be very effective and fast in creating and distributing important changes if new accidents have just happened to avoid new ones.
The microlearning content
The learning content consists of at least one topic, most often several topics. Our recommendation is that there are not too many topics included. The learner has to be able to grasp everything in one learning content version when they are being tested in their understanding.
Each topic should always only have one video, and the length of each video should not be too long - 3 minutes or less to ensure comprehension. And we would usually include from a few to 8 topics, not more than 10 topics in one learning content version.
To increase the impact there should of course also be an interactive practice session for each topic. The questions have to reflect the learning goals for each topic, and the number of questions should be kept low.
In the most cases we recommend that the learning content includes a test, whereby the user can earn a badge. To increase the motivation for learning, we like to include multiple passing levels, such as a Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum level. This can positively motivate the learner to continue to understand the topic if they score low, and some will seek to achieve the highest badge level - and if the results are allowed to be shared, this will be an important part of the gamification effect as well.
When ready, a version of the learning content is published in the academy, and it is typically made available for a certain time period to the target group. In most cases you will at some point in time have to change the content, and publish new versions. And if relevant, the learners should be notified if there are new versions, so they can update their knowledge and certify themselves and get a new badge,
Briefly added up - It is important that the questions for the practice sessions and test reflect the learning goals and content of each topic. The test / certification questions can be the same as the quiz questions or different, but have to reflect the learning goals of the learning content as a whole. Finally the learning goals of the academy should be reflected in the learning goals of all the learning content versions included in the academy, which the target group has access to.
The content and learning goals
Since the creation of learning content shouldn't be limited only to L&D, but can be created and provided by several other professionals from the organization, like sales and marketing, quality compliance and security officers, and so on, we will briefly go through a suggested methodology for creating learning material based on the goals to be reached, shown through a "real" life example.
Creating learning content
Before the learning content is created, the learning goal or goals of each learning content has to be defined – what should the learner learn and why? In this way the author of a learning content can go backwards from the goals set. Since you develop microlearning which includes videos, a good framework would be to create a storyboard divided in the topics covered before you consider producing any videos. The quality of the videos are important. If in poor quality it may very well disturb the learner.
When the topics and their learning goals are well defined, it is time to start creating the videos, and questions for practice sessions and test. And as mentioned earlier, we will recommend that you have multiple passing levels, of course dependent on the amount of questions in the test / certification.
An Academy example
In this part we show an example of how a setup of an academy could be implemented. The case is real and is shown anonymous, and the need is relevant for almost all corporations who rely on sales partners to resell their products.
The corporation wanted to provide an academy to one of its key resellers with main focus on one of their most important high-end brands which provides a high contribution margin for both the reseller and the corporation compared to their less expensive products.
Unfortunately a lot of sales people often promote less expensive products in the actual sales situation, because they often think it is easier to sell based on price.
The corporation and the reseller therefore both had an interest in educating the sales people, with the goal of making it possible for the sales people to know and understand the key product features and unique selling points of the product. This should make it possible for the sales people to promote the product when they are in the actual sales situation with a customer.
They understood that it would take some effort to change the mindset of the sales people and we came up with the following to fully increase awareness:
The Academy should be active for 2 month, with launch of one campaign each month. At the end of the 2nd month the academy hereby would include 2 campaigns. Each campaign should consist of 4 learning content versions – with launch of one new version each week. When launching the 4th and last learning content version in each campaign, a competition/sales certification is also published as part of the campaign. Each learning content version should include one video, which of course should be of short length, and should include approximately 3 questions for the practice session for the topic.
Microlearning campaign plan
In text the campaign plan hereby looked like this:
Mo 1 – Campaign 1 launch of the Academy
Mo 2 – Campaign 2 is added in the Academy
Since the target group is working in stores, the invitations to each learning content version, and reminders were sent by a combination of notifications, emails and SMS, and the learners could access the academy using PC, SmartPhone and Tablet.
With our newest version we now fully support Mobile and Bite Sized Online Learning; "an eLearning paradigm that has taken the corporate training world by storm. In a recent survey conducted by the Rapid Learning Institute, 94% of Learning and Development professionals stated that bite sized online learning modules were preferred by their learners" (Omer, 2015).
Suggested readings about Bite Sized Online Learning: