If we were to define learning transfer, it is the learner’s ability to successfully apply the knowledge, skills and competencies acquired in one or several learning modules in their work. This should ultimately result in better results and increased performance.
With learning & development specialists under pressure to prove the added value training programs bring to organizations it is very important to ensure that the courses they make available for the employees allow for optimal learning transfer.
E-learning is nowadays the first choice for corporate learning and without a person in the room to answer questions, identify challenges and help those who seem lost or left behind to catch-up it’s up to the designers to deliver units that are engaging, easily remembered and provide enough real examples or experiences to ensure retention and replication. Here are a few tips that will help with that.
1. Bite-size is better
Micro learning works like a charm in today’s busy workplace. The modern employee doesn’t have time to go through extensive modules and generally needs information or guidance on the spot.
Traditional courses are divided into chapters; e-learning modules should start from that model and keep it even shorter. Dividing the information in morsels that can be delivered in just (or under) five minutes also ensure that it will be remembered and immediately transferred on the job.
In order to have better applicability, the modules can be based on real life situations rather than just present theoretical information. Luckily, with e-learning it’s easy to generate immersive environments that the learner can easily identify with the real situations they are being confronted with.
Upon completing one of these small units, the employee should feel very confident to move to the next one. This sort of step by step learning is the best way to go when there isn’t a trainer close by.
The learning process becomes a lot easier and due to the reduced dimensions, any module can be revisited when necessary.
The technology instructional designers have today allows for the construction and delivery of these modules in record time while still leaving room for later adjustments.
2. Start from real-life situations
Since learning transfer is all about taking the knowledge into the actual workplace, starting the process from real challenges and moving towards theory seems the logical way to go.
In the current busy world with employees expected to perform immediately after being hired it’s crucial to give them the support they need to actually do so.
Coaching and mentoring are good alternatives but that means having specialists or more experienced employees available to provide guidance and expertise. E-learning, on the other hand, is the easiest method to provide answers when they are needed.
In order to achieve this level of applicability, a thorough training needs assessment has to be conducted before setting on designing the courses. Team-leaders, managers and experienced employees should be asked about the challenges that arise most often in order to match the modules to real training needs and learning gaps.
Furthermore, constantly updating the content to stay connected with the workplace reality is a necessity. Industries constantly change and so do the challenges they present. As a result, L&D specialists ought to be constantly ready to address them.
3. Learning is social
It’s true that in the case of e-learning each participant can go through the material at a different time and pace. Learning is a personal thing on the one hand but has a very important social component on the other. That’s why setting up online communities, platforms and forums where employees can ask questions, share experiences and present challenges is the effective way to encourage further development.
Repetition is the most important component of learning and talking about recently acquired information or experience greatly increases retention rates. Furthermore, having people talking about the e-learning programs and how they apply to their work is a great way to gather valuable feedback and adjust the content.
Younger generations greatly value peer opinions and recommendations. If a certain course gets enough thumbs up it will definitely be accessed by a lot more people and lead to improved competencies in that particular area throughout the organization.
Another perk of having such platforms running is that L&D professionals can use them to periodically measure or test certain skills. The use of quizzes, polls or games are some of the most appealing features of social networks. These can be used as reinforcement tools, providing opportunities to go back on already learned units and increase learning transfer.
The success of any training activity is eventually connected to learning transfer on the job. By creating training programs that are bite-sized, are based on real life situations and have a social component, instructional designers maximize the chances of employees to not only remember what they learn but to actually apply that knowledge.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.