Learning something once is enough of a challenge—so how are your employees doing when it comes to retaining that information in the long term?
Training leaders have a simple goal: teach workers to do their job more effectively. They try to give them the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their day-to-day activities, but more often than not, it’s this translation from theory to practice that trips people up. Companies expect employees to get back to work after training and figure out for themselves how to incorporate their learning into their work.
No matter how great your eLearning course is—no matter how engaging the content—participants in your course might leave the program feeling, or being, unprepared to actually apply what you have taught them. That application is called “learning transfer,” and when it’s lacking, the company has effectively wasted its time and money training its employees.
Without some sort of strategy for reinforcing skills after the end of the training, 90% of the course’s content could fall right out of the learners’ ears. Read more about how to tackle this “challenge of training transfer” here.
Luckily, training leaders can make the content of their eLearning courses really stick if they follow some simple tricks.
Here are some ideas to help your employees apply what they’ve learned:
No matter how great your eLearning course is—no matter how engaging the content—participants in your course might leave the course feeling, or being, unprepared to actually apply what you have taught them.
1) Go In With a Purpose
Even before you create the eLearning course, be clear with yourself and with your team WHY you’re creating this eLearning course, WHY it’s important, and WHAT you want your audience to learn.
Communicate all of this to your employees throughout the process (before, during, and after the program), and then follow up with words and actions that encourage them to implement what they’ve learned.
Always put yourself in your learner's shoes and make sure you answer the "what's in it for me" question right from the start!
2) Create Checklists and Cheat-sheets
After the eLearning course is completed, give students job performance aids (checklists, cheat sheets, quick videos) that they can take back to work with them and look at whenever they need them. This sort of document is especially helpful when you’re teaching new procedures or adding new steps to existing ones. Even better, make sure that practical, easily-referenced training materials are available to employees through a centralized knowledge base.
Making job performance aids easily available via mobile devices helps reduce memory loss and also encourages participants to keep applying new learning at their job. Giving your learners the option to access the material anytime, anywhere will encourage their active engagement post-training as it allows them to go back to anything based on their needs and practice skills when the opportunity arises.
3) Provide Ongoing Support from Supervisors
Supervisors and managers need to be a resource for newly-trained employees so that they can answer questions, review key concepts, and give feedback on how well they’re transferring the learning to the job. It’s just as important for trainees to perceive that their supervisors are supportive in this way!
You need to ensure that each manager is able to articulate why the course is important to the individual employee and the organization as a whole. For particularly important courses, you may wish to invest in some management training, to equip your managers with the information they need to help them encourage their team to apply what they learned in the training.
4) Establish Group Support
Towards the end of eLearning courses, group up trainees so they can meet regularly after training (online or in-person) to discuss problems in applying their knowledge, assess how they’re doing with the new skills, and quiz themselves with practice activities. This will give members a sense of unity and confidence, which will encourage them to reach out when they run into problems. Assigning a training partner can also be useful. Remember to review expectations for the networks you create!
Recommended read: How Your Workplace Can Support Learning Transfer
5) Program Refresher Sessions
An effective way to combat the forgetting curve and make sure students are applying the material 30, 60 o even 90 days after course completion is through MicroLearning refresher courses. The goal is to offer course participants a short but powerful summary of the key concepts and skills learned in the cour. Also, opening spaces for Q&A's and discussions to give workers a chance to share tales of their successes and challenges/obstacles in their skill transfer journey is also a great idea.
The effectiveness of your eLearning course will skyrocket if you arrange frequent opportunities for learners to put into practice what they’ve discovered.
- Decode the Science of Forgetting: How to Create Memorable eLearning [Part I]
- Decode the Science of Forgetting: How to Create Memorable eLearning [Part II]
6) Reinforce the Importance of Continuous Practice
Don’t preach—practice! Without retention, training serves no purpose, and retention is useless without effective application. The effectiveness of your eLearning course will skyrocket if you plan frequent opportunities for learners to put into practice what they’ve discovered. Gamification techniques, both during and after training, can contribute to making skills transfer both fun and rewarding!
At the end of every eLearning course, give your employees an exercise with which they can test themselves on the material. Frequent exercises like these will break up the monotony of boring lectures, but will also increase their competence in the subject exponentially!
You Might Also Want to Read: Before, During, and After Training: Improving Knowledge Transfer in Your Organization in 3 Stages
How are you ensuring learning transfer in your eLearning courses? What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in terms of knowledge retention? Let us know in the comments below!