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Using Microlearning for Post-Event Reinforcement and Performance Support

Posted by Carla Torgerson, MEd, MBA on April 11, 2019 at 1:43 PM

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In the last installment, we explored how to use microlearning techniques to prepare learners for live training events.  But what about after the event?  Can microlearning techniques help learners retain what they learned, as well as perform better in their jobs?  Yes, they can.  Here’s how.

Why Reinforce Learning After Live Events?

Most L&D professionals know about the “Forgetting Curve” – an estimate of how quickly people forget content learned in a formal learning environment. While we can debate how quickly people forget new information, one thing is clear: Learners do have a tendency to forget recently-learned information pretty rapidly.  That’s why it’s important to reinforce learning in the days, weeks, and even months following a live training event.

We typically reinforce learning for two key reasons:

1. Increase retention of key concept.

2. Make it easier for learners to apply what they are learning to the job (i.e., performance support)

Why Microlearning for Post-Event Reinforcement?

Microlearning is great for post-event reinforcement because it meshes so nicely with the reality that most learners face – that they don’t have a lot of time for long-form reinforcement activities.  They can much more easily fit short, “bite-sized” learning activities into their work day.

In addition, some types of reinforcement are meant to be used just-in-time, as learners perform job-related tasks.  “How-to” resources for using a piece of software or operating a piece of equipment are great examples.  These resources must quickly hone in on the task at hand, and enable learners to use them in real time. To be most useful, they must focus on what the learner needs at that moment and nothing more.

Examples

Here are a few examples of microlearning tools and techniques that you can use after an event to reinforce learning and/or to be used as performance support. We’re confident you can come up with many more ideas:

1. E-Mail Campaign – You use e-mail to deliver short pieces of information to learners over time, reviewing and reinforcing key things they learned in the training. It’s important to focus on the most relevant information and determine the optimal cadence.

2. Pulsed Knowledge Questions – The idea is to ask the learner a series of multiple choice questions over time. This technique adds reinforcement which leads to retention. It can also push learners to more thoughtfully engage with the information.  High relevance and proper cadence are also important for this technique.

3. Wallet Cards – Reference cards and similar tools are great for reinforcing key points. They can also be used for performance support, if the content is a checklist or other job aid.

4. Infographics / Job Aids – Infographics can be highly useful, whether static (printed or electronic) or interactive. If an employee posts one of these things on his or her bulletin board and refers to it regularly, you know it’s making a difference for him/her.  A good example of a job aid might be an objection handler:  A tool that outlines common objections a sales rep might experience, as well as the proper responses.  It’s important to note that an infographic is not a discrete item on this list, as you could incorporate an infographic into a wallet card, detail aid, etc.

5. Detail Aids – Sales reps often use printed or interactive detail aids to communicate with potential customers. These resources can really help sales reps structure narratives, recall key facts and messages, and communicate more effectively.

6. Video Clips – “How-to” video clips can be very useful, particularly for performance support. Remember the example we gave earlier about using a piece of software or operating a piece of equipment?

7. How-To-Guides – Short “how-to” guides can really help people get a task done quickly and accurately. Think of the Quick-Start Guide that came with your last laptop computer, DVD player, or other electronic gadget.

How about you?  What other microlearning tools and techniques have you used for post-event reinforcement or performance support?

What’s Coming Next?

In our next installment, we’ll explore how you can use microlearning techniques for stand-alone training.

Topics: Performance Support, learning retention, microlearning