Nano-Learning, the power to learn in small doses

How to achieve employee engagement with the various training actions we conduct? Learning leaders and human talent managers ask me this question often in our conversations.

“Coordinating schedules is a titanic task…”, “Business does not allow me enough time to train people”, “I need people to learn all this, but we only have 2 hours to do it.” The time challenges for organizations have been a key factor for making autonomous learning a must in the learning strategy, however the dropout numbers from e-learning education show that successful completion of a program is between 25 and 30%.

Today we can say that we have never had so much access to knowledge for our employees to learn autonomously, all thanks to technology. But to go further, it is necessary to return to the fundamentals of the human brain and how we learn. Our brain allows us to maintain attention for between 90 and 110 minutes, but a sustained attention span only lasts for a period of 15 minutes. If we add to this the fact that our neurons require time and stimulus to strengthen synapses and to create neural connections, then we would have to try to maintain the stimulus for brain learning in this time period. Here we have the first key to successful learning: use short time periods for learning.

But it is not enough to just manage time, given the variety of stimuli we are exposed to in our environment, we can easily lose attention. When something catches our brain’s attention, it’s because it’s novel and relevant. Anything surprising to us will attract our attention because we are ultimately curious beings. Grabbing attention depends significantly on what is important to someone and it can be quite different for somebody else. Here we get the second key: get to know your audience fully to understand what their learning need is since it matters to them.

Combining these two keys together can make a difference in your organization’s learning strategy. In my experience, when we took a broad range of content in which someone had to be trained and we fragmented it into small doses or “shots”, the person grasped more information than through traditional training of longer duration.

The duration of each dose of knowledge will depend on the format to implement: in a virtual format it can vary between 5 to 7 minutes, but in a face-to-face format we can take from 30 minutes to 1 hour, rotating the concept presentation (which should not take more than 10 minutes) with the discussion and practical to which we allocate a longer duration, of 20 to 30 minutes.

Before defining what the learning “shots” will be, we undertake a process of thoroughly understanding on what employee needs to act on, thinking about what they should know, as well as what we want them to feel and do. We call this process, Feel, Know and Do, and when these 3 elements are clear, we can define both the content we will work with and the formats and technologies to do so.

The technology is varied and easily accessible for any training leader to achieve the expected results. Today, Artificial Intelligence is easily accessible and enables applications to send personalized content, answer questions in real time, giving us access to content to resolve any query. And best of all, it recommends topics of interest to us, capturing our attention effectively so that in small doses we access a whole body of knowledge. By pulling data analytics together, you will be able to find out what “shot” your employee needs and in what format to give it to him or her for learning to be effective.

So, when we talk about how to generate engagement in learning, I prefer to ask another question to solve this one first, and that is, how do we make sure employees in our organization learn?

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