You will find many models and theories out there about the best timeframes for learning delivery. Each one, according to its author, is the best for maximising level of retention, transfer of skills or absorption of knowledge. Of course, it’s important to remember that every situation is different.
For example, systems training is best delivered within four weeks of the system changes going live. Simply put, this means the knowledge is fresh and can be applied straight away. However, it’s not always viable or practical to squeeze learning into the 'best practice' optimum timeframe window - especially with dispersed or remote workforces. So how do organisations get around this?
Firstly, there is nothing wrong with learning foundation knowledge whenever it’s possible to do so. For product training, having a good fundamental understanding of the product months ahead of a product launch will provide learners with the basic core knowledge. However, when it comes to selling the key features and benefits of the product, you might want learners to brush up on those just prior to launch.
This is known as 'just-in-time learning'. Deloitte's Bersin Lexicon tool defines it as referring "to making learning available when needed by the learner, and at the time that the learner needs the information, knowledge or skill." Just-in-time learning differs, then, from classic learning - because it is delivered according to the end user's need.
"Organisations require responsive L&D functions to succeed in today's fast-moving economic and competitive environment," says Towards Maturity's latest Learning Benchmark Report, Unlocking Potential.
"Part of this is to react when new processes are introduced, new products and services are brought to market, or new customers or suppliers enter the business chain." However, the report goes on, only 20% of those working towards agility outcomes are attaining them - with this rising to 54% among the Top Deck of learning achievers.
Technology, says Towards Maturity, is the key to this connectivity and success. "Agility achievers are also achieving success because they are tailoring learning to individual need and to context."
Imagine you are sitting in your car outside the building in which you're about to give a client presentation. You are nervous and you could do with some last-minute tips and advice. With just-in-time learning, you can access this information on your phone or tablet, right there and then. So new technologies and mobile learning has enabled learning to be more flexible – in both location and timeframe.
We often develop just-in-time learning in order to support time-critical business events. In a recent example, one of our long-term clients asked us to develop training to accompany an exhibition stand for teams who were about to represent their company at a major trade show. The team then accessed the learning in the week prior to the exhibition. The information, skills, tips and dos and don’ts were at the forefront of their minds on the day. And the result? Increased and improved engagement with their customers and sales leads.
Any business-critical event that requires learning interventions - such as rollouts, launches, sales or marketing campaigns; new or updated training on legislation or compliance; new product releases, and so on - need to have accessible learning content which is a) part of a blend; and b) that can be quickly pulled by the learner when they need it.
We can also maximise learner engagement and knowledge retention with the correct content complexity. By setting clear learning objectives and keeping the learning down to manageable 'chunks' of information, we will help the learner to take on board learning without overloading them.
The flexibility of just-in-time learning - available when the learner needs it - means they can also revisit the content when they need to brush up or refresh their skills, which obviously is also positive for information retention.
Whether you are developing eLearning in-house or need an eLearning supplier, at Bray Leino Learning we can offer advice and consultancy as well as a full instructional design and eLearning development service.
You can also access our huge library of expert information - including the 'Six Steps to Future eLearning Guide' - completely FREE, any time, on our site.
Kerry Pascall, Head of Digital Learning, Bray Leino Learning
In my series of blogs you can expect some tips on implementing eLearning, what to consider when commissioning eLearning, design tips, software and authoring pro’s and con’s, and general advice on everything eLearning!
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