Make Learning More Effective

Is learning effective in your company or its like a ticking a check box? It could also be a break from routine specially with expensive / offsite / external programs where participants travel to exotic locations, have good time for a couple of days, play some interesting management / team building games, attend ‘networking’ dinners and come back. Researches have shown that 70% of the content is forgotten within 24 hours of the training and 90% of it by end of the week.

As per a study, only 10% of the corporate trainings are effective. Ineffective training causes huge cost of ‘wastage’. Studies have shown that the total loss to a business from ineffective training is about $13.5 Million per year per thousand employees. Even if we discount this data by 50%, its still a big money. At the same time, we cant ignore the importance of training in organizations. About 7 Out of 10 people say that training and development opportunities influence in the decision to stay with organization. Another data shows that about 5% of total annual budget (including human resources cost) of the company goes in to Training and development.

1. Measure Learning Effectiveness:

This pushes us to find a solution to ensure learning effectiveness. Situation is not all that bad. The first step towards this should be measuring the effectiveness. As people say that once you start measuring / monitoring a process, it will get fixed. As per Kirk Patrick learning effectiveness model, there are multiple levels of effectiveness:

Level 1Feedback from users about program, trainer / facilitator and facility

Level 2Test of learning recall once training is over. There should be pre and post assessment to see the shift in understanding of the content.

Level 3Assessment for application of the knowledge. This should be done by taking feedback from managers after a few months of training as learner would have got an opportunity to practice the learnt concepts. Ideally, it should also be done before the training to compare the shift in behaviour post the training. The challenge comes at this level is user does not get the opportunity to practice the learnt concept.

Level 4: Assessment of learning on financials of the company in terms of increase in top line, bottom line, productivity etc. This becomes a bit difficult as many other variables impact these aspects and controlling other variables are not possible and hence any positive or negative or no shift cant be directly attributed to training alone.

This could be implemented for any training programs and modes like soft skills, technical or functional skills. Similarly, for ILTs, e-learning or mobile learning / micro learning, all programs could have these measurements attached with them. Measuring training effectiveness is like having half the battle won. Start doing it as the first step. It tells us if the trainings that are being imparted are effective or not and pushes us to take required steps in that direction.

2. Enhancing Training Effectiveness:

There are a few easy and simple steps that could be implemented in no time to enhance learning effectiveness.

1. Pre – Reads: Pushing pre-reads before any ILT followed by an assessment (on that pre-read) could be quite effective as it sets the tone for learning and makes the learners aware as to what he should expect to learn from the program. For pushing pre-reads and assessments, you can look at using mobile learning as this could be the most efficient and effective way as. The content for pre-read needs to be very crisp and simple to comprehend so that it does not become a burden on the learners.

2. Pre – Assessment: If you are not able to offer pre-read, at least have pre-assessment before the program / course starts so that learner’s context and expectation is set. This makes the learner more conscious during the program / content consumption and makes the learning process more effective.

3. Pre-Feedback: Look at taking pre-feedback about the learner from self and managers on the competencies that is focussed upon in the course. This will help people to become aware of the gaps and the actual need of learning. The feedback will also helps in doing level 3 effectiveness measurement.

4. Post Assessment: Once course / program is over, you must conduct post-assessment to check learning recall. This helps learners to recap the content and enhances learning process. Researches have also shown that when you push a learner to recall information within hours few days of program, they are much more likely to retain that information in the long run.

5. Reinforcement / Followup Content: This stage is extremely effective as it keeps reminding learners about the concepts that they would have learnt during the course. Studies show that once in a fortnight crisp followup content / reinforcement content will increase learning recall at least by 60%. It is a simple example of “use it or lose it”.  

6. Post Feedback: There should be a feedback to assess learning effectiveness at level 3 at least after 3 months of the course to check application of the learning that was imparted during the program. This feedback could be taken from learners themselves, their managers and other stakeholders as the case may be. Once you ask learners those question about application of learning, it will further enhance the learning effectiveness and retention will be much more longer.

If you need to all of that, you need to have good automated / integrated and user friendly tools / solutions else, it will never happen. MLearning or mobile learning which is well integrated with LMS could be a good option where by as Learning team, all assessments, feedback templates and reinforcement content can be pushed through backend and users can consume them on their mobile learning solution so that it becomes easy and simple for them to respond. The key is that content should be crisp and simple and so is user interface and then you are home..:-)

Poonam Tharad Head and Co-Founder - PalmLeaf. Poonam has over 20 years of experience in the Human Resources domain. She is currently heading the product unit for Mobile Solutions for Engagement and Learning at Mahindra Comviva.

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