Designing Learning Programs for Lasting Impact



Welcome to Designing Learning Programs for Lasting Impact. In this video, we’ll review principles for building a best practice microlearning program.  We’ll talk through how to design with end measurement and outcomes in mind. I’ll present three microlearning program ideas and wrap up by talking about what makes good micro content. We’ll eventually get into specific examples of microlearning programs being utilized out in the wild. But for now, I’ll walk through important factors that contribute to an effective program.

To begin with central vision, consistency is key. Who is the audience you are targeting? What are the most important things to focus on, and how will you best execute to achieve success? With your business goals, these are the key performance indicators or core metrics that are specific and unique to your business and usually align with the business’s macro level focus for the year, or your company’s central vision.

It is important to think about the business value that you want to get from your program throughout the year so that projects that align to your program can tie back to validate your ROI.  With your program brand, this aligns with that central vision. Your program brand should be simple and effective. It should differentiate your program and engage your participants.  With insights, think about what metrics will stakeholders want to see. What outcomes will infer that my program was a success, and how will you then track and monitor those metrics and surface them in a way that is easily digestible to leadership. Regardless of the intention of the program, the elements or content that you create or utilize should be of high quality, consistent and relevant.

In order to analyze that data from your program in a meaningful way, you will need to organize your points or topics, which could include sales methodology, competitor messaging, product knowledge, and group your audience by their user attributes. User attributes can include role or department, how long they’ve been with your organization, and their performance to quota. Implementing this type of organization allows you to interpret trends on the data, which is really critical to surfacing those insights and getting the maximum value out of your program. Let’s talk in more detail on interpreting trends.

Here we’re showing the heat map from our program manager reports, and by pulling in our topic and an aggregate of our users, we can use this type of tagging effectively to support target statements like “We are seeing very low proficiency levels in the northern region in relation to the objections topic,” or “The western region is really struggling with questions relating to competitors.”

So, it’s these insights that help you to determine where to focus your future training and coaching efforts, and that’s really critical to ensuring the success of your program.

It’s important to link topics to your attributes. By planning ahead for your data, you can attain a robust view of the outcomes of your learning program, and we have found this to be of extreme interest to our customers. Business leaders will be really interested in what impact your training programs have, and that becomes part of executive reporting. You achieve that top-level down support. Now we’ll talk through successful program examples and the differences between each.

With embedded learning paths you will need to map out your training program or learning path for the year, and from there, incorporate micro learning into those existing learning processes. This can result in reinforcement or provide a diagnostic. A type of learning path might be a product launch, a new hire on boarding, or a professional development path. With our first presentation example, this is presenting new concepts and learning immediately.

This program promotes agility within the training to easily modify existing and future content based on metrics and feedback. Concepts can be reinforced once the initial content is presented. This results in valuable insights for training managers. With certification the learning is presented through a webinar, classroom time or hosting materials. The microlearning component reinforces that knowledge and certifies your workforce as part of the broader program, which is valuable to insights for sales leadership. All of these examples incorporate blended learning.

Here at Qstream we talk through your objectives and then help you to determine which program will work best to align with those objectives. The true starting point for all of these programs is for you to map out your initiatives for the year, then you can determine the best strategies to execute that plan.

The first would be the embedded learning program. You can begin by developing a department or role-based learning path, then engage your participants through E-learning modules or classroom time specific to their learning path, then use a microlearning strategy like Qstream to reinforce the key messages from what they learned. You can then analyze the insights to inform the future of the program or learning path by interpreting trends and patterns to see what worked and what didn’t. Then the participant will advance to the next stage.

Here’s a great example of an embedded learning program for new hires:  Class starts on day one and then the first two hours of class the next day is allotted to answering their Qstream question. This customer typically sends out anywhere from 30 to 80 questions, and they’re immediately able to focus on topics that participants struggled with and rectify that in the afternoon session. This is absolutely a blended learning approach, and one fun fact is to highlight that they have been running this program for the past three years, and this has resulted in almost 40,000 moments when learning has occurred.

Here is an example of our heat map from one of the Qstreams in that program. As you can see, the trainer would most likely circle back to product specs. The next program focuses on the first presentation of material. Your strategy here would be to actually introduce the material to the participant through a Q & A approach. You would then determine a baseline for participants to analyze and inform the reinforcement of the material. Next, you can target the knowledge gaps and reinforce the key messages through precision learning. Next, you can target the knowledge gaps and reinforce the key messages through precision learning. From there, with all of the insights that you’ve derived, engaging the participant not once, but twice, this could result in an improvement of existing materials and resources.

Here is an example where new material was presented for the first time to support an in-person training based on the outcomes of that initial micro-learning strategy. There was a significant improvement from the first time that the content was presented to the last time they were presented with that content. And one highlight here is that one particular question yielded no correct answers the first time, but half of the participants the first time through the reinforcement answered it correctly. Again, the heat map here highlights that the trainer should focus their training on coaching skills and managing attention, and if there are breakout sessions, they could follow up on the other areas in red.  The final program is certification.

From the list of initiatives for the year one might be a product launch, and to support that product launch materials, E-learning modules and classroom time might be provided to the participant. The learning would be reinforced where a past threshold can be set. The user can even practice the messaging through video capability. It would then be determined if they can advance or must retake the certification.

Here’s a final example where a healthcare organization awarded continuing education credits for clinicians who became certified through their program.  Participants are continually enrolled, and one question alone saw dramatic improvement at 312%.

So, what did all of these successful programs have in common?  Strong and relevant content. Bad content ignores the audience where good content correctly identifies who the audience is and speaks to that audience. Bad content is irrelevant and focuses on the minutia. Good content is relevant and speaks to the person’s everyday responsibilities. Bad content can be misleading or factually incorrect where good content is well researched and accurate. Bad content includes no rich media and good content not only includes rich media, but it serves a purpose whether that is a supporting image or a link to external training.

So, what makes good content? The following four elements are critical. It must be relevant to the participant’s job. It’s the what’s-in-it-for-me factor, and research shows learning is stronger when it matters. With quality, it must be of good quality, be clear and concise and the take-home message must be clearly identifiable. This ties back to the importance of feedback and the learning process difficulty level. It must have the correct difficulty level. If the content is too easy, people don’t see any value. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but a crucial part of the process.

And finally with review, I can’t emphasize enough how important the review is. If there’s a mistake in your content, it can seriously impact engagement.

So how can microlearning fit in your programs? In a nutshell, microlearning provides bite-sized digital learning experiences which are incorporated into the learner’s daily activities. It is in stark contrast to the traditional model of learning, and mass engagement follows. When creating microlearning content there are a number of factors that should be considered, it’s not just shrunken content. Prioritize the key points and find the most important concepts and make them stick. Rethink, reinforce and apply precision learning. These are the key messages that an organization cannot afford for people to forget. And make sure to consider the attention span of your audience and what is likely to grab their attention. You should include some element of ranking to drive engagement whether that’s by individual or team, and your microlearning message should proclaim its obvious value to the audience. It should be clear what’s in it for me. And micro-learning is not just for millennials. The desire for access to faster relevant information is universal and it’s not an either-or with LMS or microlearning. Diagnose the right training experience for the topic or question.

In summary, when you are evaluating or considering microlearning for your programs, it comes back to engagement, reinforcement and analytics. Thank you.