Published: Jan 21, 2019Time to read: 6mins Category: Learning

How to Make Learning Content Stick: 7 Ideas to Entice Your Learners

Knowing what you want to achieve, consolidating your content and using the right blend of learning are a few of the ways to make learning content stick and keep your learners coming back.

Perhaps the deciding factor in the overall impact learning technologies have for businesses is the precision and quality of the content they help to provide. While the appetite for learning is there—three-quarters of learners are willing to experiment with the way they accumulate knowledge, and 61% are motivated to learn online simply because they like to learn—there are also challenges.

Almost nine out of 10 businesses want to increase employee engagement with learning. And as we’ll discuss later, it can be easy for employees to switch off when their daily window of opportunity to learn is as small as their time demands are great. Here are seven ideas to make your learning programs stick and improve learner buy-in.

How to Make Learning Content Stick #1: Revisit and Decide Your Learner Objectives

This is an important initial step towards making your learning relevant and engaging. First of all, if you haven’t already, identify your training needs and what learners should be able to recognize, state or identify as a result of taking training.

Then define the behavior learners should be able to demonstrate, including the situations they should be able to demonstrate it in and the standards they ought to achieve. Look at your existing learning content and use of technologies to see how closely it helps your organization and people to achieve these objectives as effectively and quickly as possible.

How to Make Learning Content Stick #2: Assemble Your Content

Creating a new training program is a perfect opportunity to survey your existing content and bring it all together in a coherent way that improves learner access. So where might your existing learning content be? It could include:

  • Wikis
  • Website articles
  • In-house documents and slides
  • Instructor manuals and notes
  • Printed materials

The list of places where people might find the information they need to perform their roles more effectively is exhaustive—and when knowledge is stored in lots of different places, it can put people off searching for and engaging with that content. Learning technologies give you the chance to unify this content in one authoritative, intuitively searchable resource that learners will repeatedly return to and trust.

Recommended related reading: 'The 13 Must-Have Features of a Learning Management'

How to Make Learning Content Stick #3: Decide What to Do With Your Learning

If learning aims to help people master a new technique as fully and efficiently as possible, there is usually more than one way to help them achieve that. Whether you’re creating a 15-minute module or a standalone burst of learning to help people at their exact point of need, the content is unlikely to be “sticky” if it’s presented in the wrong format.

Striking the right blend is key. For example, learners are likely to benefit from a face-to-face approach and videos by a subject matter expert when learning about a complex technical skill. Digital technologies can also greatly increase the level of collaborative learning available to employees: your learning might include online forums, webinars, or polls.

How to Make Learning Content Stick #4: Orchestrate Style and Tone

Your content repertoire will likely be shaped by a number of different stakeholders, leading to a variety of different styles and tones. In some cases, your contributors may not be familiar with compiling and collaborating on learning content, or they might have wildly differing views on how the final learning should look.

However, we know that learning is most effective when it has a uniform tone throughout, giving users a consistent experience. Jolting from one style to the next can be jarring for learners, so ensuring that content flows and provides a smooth learner journey is very important.

How to Make Learning Content Stick #5: Embrace Bite-Size Content

You only need to think of the number of potential distractions during a typical working day to appreciate why concise bursts of learning tend to be more effective than more time-consuming content. According to research, most employees have just one percent of the working week (24 minutes out of 40 hours) available to focus on training and development.

There is evidence, too, that leaders want to learn in short periods of time, often supported by technology outside of standard working hours. Bite-sized learning, such as a video demo lasting less than five minutes, is a great way to offer content that fits into very busy working lives.

How to Make Learning Content Stick #6: Invite Your Learners In

While passive learning has its purpose, encouraging learners to play an active part in the spread of knowledge across a company is an obvious (and highly effective) way of increasing engagement. Technology gives us the chance to create connections and communities of learning, building on our social instincts to learn from and interact with each other while sharing insights and reflections which are often unique.

This might include:

  • Enabling comments on learning content (and making these comments searchable)
  • Using tools that allow video creation and sharing by learners from any device
  • Games-based learning, points, and leaderboards
  • Buttons and direct links to content for easy social media sharing

How to Make Learning Content Stick #7: Take a Storytelling Approach

Hearing or reading a statement of fact is usually not as compelling as discovering the same information through a story. Good storytelling ties in neatly to some of the tips we have mentioned elsewhere in this blog: think about the impact of a manager recounting a real-life example of good or bad practice on a forum or in a webinar, or a bite-sized video dramatization of a learning point.

Wisely chosen and used, stories give people and teams a framework and a language for thinking about and discussing new ideas, and for reflecting on their own behaviors—important when you want to start a change conversation.

Creating Learning Content That Leads to Great Results

Learning technologies are opening doors to an exciting, much more collaborative future in which learners are actively involved in their development across their career.

When your learning content is engaging and clearly beneficial to professional progress, the results are better learning outcomes and improved business performance.

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