Article: Busting E-learning Myths

Part 3: Separating effective training from trends

 

From big data to burst learning, virtual reality to adaptive logic, several digital trends promise to deliver cutting-edge capabilities that can engage learners and embed knowledge like never before. On the one hand, some of these trends represent meaningful applications of modern technology that can take learning efficacy to the next level. On the other, some are not nearly as effective in application as one might expect. To separate fact from fiction in the digital age, corporate leaders must deconstruct some common e-learning myths to get at the core of what drives engagement, knowledge retention, and ultimately, return on investment.

 

Burst learning or bust? expediency versus practicality

Trend

As human attention spans shorten, the more concise the communication, the easier it is to absorb. This suggests that burst learning, which delivers training through a series of 3-5 minute virtual segments or “bursts,” will continue to gain momentum as the preferred method of training for time-starved employees.

Myth Busted

The concept of burst learning is cognitively sound, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the wave of the future. While it may be ideal to teach people in smaller bite-sized chunks, there are several reasons why burst learning may go bust rather than boom. 

First, business environments are inherently more complex than what can be conveyed in 3-5 minute segments. Compliance is a great example. There are many different forms of corruption as well as a myriad of geographic and industry-specific nuances. Covering them all in a burst learning path can take months. Furthermore, like many complex topics, compliance demands a cohesive approach. Until employees know how to recognize and avoid corrupt practices, they are more likely to engage in them.
Consequently, waiting weeks or months for employees to become aware of every important aspect can elevate nonperformance risk within the organization. 

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Burst learning adoption can also be exceptionally slow in the enterprise, thus elevating overhead costs. A segmented approach ratchets up the development and deployment effort required, since the learning organization won’t be developing, assigning and tracking a single course, but several mini ones. This overhead is hard to avoid, especially if the subject matter being delivered fulfills a regulatory requirement or a business mandate where the learning organization will need to disseminate content, ensure the necessary topics are covered, and track who completed them. Learners can also perceive their effort to be higher, depending on individual preferences. For instance, some professionals will prefer to cover a topic thoroughly in one sitting, as opposed to being interrupted several times during the workweek. Though it is cognitively expedient to teach people in smaller bite-sized chunks, for these reasons burst learning is not always practical for an enterprise application.