Office workers hold hands together on table

Effective new trends in training and instruction design

By Jeanette Rogers

Interacting with your phone. Playing online games. Watching 2-minute videos. A casual observer might think you’re distracted but it might mean you’re actively learning new skills. The traditional training method with an instructor lecturing in front of participants for an hour or more has been on the decline for decades. And now, even online learning through virtual meetings and online videos is being replaced by more innovative training approaches. Focusing instead on microlearning, training can take place in small, bite-size chunks at the learner’s pace as the information is needed. Microlearning can be implemented through some of the latest user education trends including mobile, gamification, and, most recently, content curation.

Mobile learning is here

According to a Jan 2017 CNBC report, “The global smartphone install base is set to grow 50 percent in the next four years to 6 billion devices.” With more mobile devices than people in the world, we should be creating content that is accessible on these ever-present small screens. This doesn’t mean simply scaling down the size of existing content; there are key concepts to consider like the on-the-go environment in which the content will be viewed, what devices will be used, how someone will interact with the content, and how long a learner will engage with the content. While much thought needs to be put into redesigning for mobile, this delivery option can provide excellent just-in-time learning in bite-sized chunks for our busy learners anywhere in the world.

Recent innovation

Gamification, introduces game-like elements to keep participants motivated by using more appealing activities while learning. Game elements could include adding challenges, risk taking, and mystery through immediate actions. Participants can level up or receive badges and see their progress through small challenges as they work towards mastery. Good game design requires thoughtful analysis of what will inspire target learners and keep them involved with an easy-to-use system. Well planned learning games can keep participants engaged and enthusiastically coming back for more.

Content is king

Lastly, with the popularity of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), YouTube, and other online information sources, a focus on content curation is becoming a popular alternative to a company creating all its own content. A content curator sifts through available training to find and organize the relevant information for a company’s users. Curated content can be organized into smaller knowledge chunks, structured around learner types, and consumed by learners as needed. Content curation doesn’t replace the need for company-specific training, but it can supplement company materials, allowing instructional designers and trainers to focus on unique content not readily available.

Implementing these ideas in recent training projects, I’ve seen more happy learners eagerly putting new skills to immediate use. Learning should be fun, relevant, and easy to access. Exploring these newer delivery methods for educating your staff will improve employee satisfaction and retention.