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7 Steps to Subscription Learning

December 18, 2016 • gal

This post is inspired by Dr. Will Thalheimer’s work in

One of the problems learning professionals face is employees who consider classroom training boring, not related to their “real work,” or can’t find the time as it clashes with their schedules. This will have you arguing with those claiming that work takes precedence over training — especially after onboarding is over. Another problem is low knowledge retention rates for newly learnt information if it isn’t repeated, accessed or used in real-life situations — particularly if you training is labelled as long, boring, mandatory, or valueless. That’s why reviewing information through engaging content can make or break information retention. T

What to do?

Replacing classroom-based training with eLearning isn’t enough as it can have the same pitfalls — too long or not repeating learning in a way that creates knowledge retention. We suggest treating your learners as “subscribers” and spreading learning over time. This, combined with micro-learning — where you communicates directly to learners’ inboxes via spaced repetition in short learning bursts — is called “subscription learning.”

Here are the 7 steps to subscription-based learning:

Step 1: Divide eLearning sessions by 12

Attention spans are shortening and learning styles are changing and when class courses are long, participation plummets. That doesn’t mean you should replace hour-long sessions with hour-long videos, but with 12, 5-minute videos or other learning elements that are engaging and served “right”! If employees don’t see training as valuable and fun, you’ll be seen as competing for employees’ time rather than helping the business.

Step 2: Discover spaced learning and spaced repetition

The spaced repetition learning technique incorporates increasing intervals of time between subsequent reviews of previously learned material. Basically, it’s why cramming for a test doesn’t work, but studying a little each day does. The ideal is to send employees learning nuggets one-by-one.

Step 3: Adopt micro-learning

Micro-learning is a 3-5 minute long nugget of learning that drives a specific learning outcome. Delivered on the job in an engaging way over multiple devices (so that it can be consumed exactly when users need it), it can promote knowledge retention by re-engaging users with content and reinforcing the primary training. Micro-learning has to be short so it forces you to remove obsolete or lengthy content.

Step 4: Engage often

Treat learners as if they’ve subscribed to your learning “newsletter.” Teach them a thing or two on a schedule every 2-3 days. This repeats the knowledge, spaces learning, and ensures knowledge retention. It is also much easier for employees to consume, since a daily interaction of several minutes doesn’t interfere with work. They might go through 3-4 nuggets of eLearning, answer (drill) questions, or run through simulations that require applying the knowledge. If they engage with materials for 10 minutes daily over a period of a month, it will undeniably result in better knowledge retention.

Step 5: Use multi-media

Use many content types, from presentations; to videos; simulations for branched scenarios; quizzes to assess where learners are on the learning path; blended sessions that combine brief learning on any media — videos, presentations, links, materials from your Learning Management System, etc.; fun quizzes that can engage users with media, such as video questions, picture answers, etc.; and more. Always signify progression and completion at each point in the learning journey.

Step 6: Repeat and re-engage

Don’t just deliver a course, repeat elements and assess knowledge retention. This allows you to evaluate who needs extra training, more compliance testing etc., and you can re-serve your eLearning users with the knowledge they need. Use this step to re-order content based on popularity and engagement, or according to new learning paths you’ve discovered while serving micro-learning nuggets to your “subscribers.”

Step 7: Add gamification & feedback

Gamification is perfect for eLearning as it drives repetition and eLearning completion. Adding gamification and digital motivation to subscription learning closes the loop — it contains the measurement and repetition capabilities; the learning content creation options; and, most importantly, the means to automatically administer such a course using gamified elements to drive user interest in learning completion. Feedback can also be a great component of subscription learning as it can drive inputs about the quality and relevance of content, thereby boosting the interactivity of the learning, adding valuable info and interaction.

Bottom Line

The rise of spaced and subscription based learning signals a change in how employees are engaged with learning. Used with high-quality, appealing content and engagement through gamification paves the way!

Want to know more about subscription learning? Download our free ebook.

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