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On the Go: Why Flexibility is the New Normal

Compare these scenarios:

You are required to take time out of your workday for mandatory training, as deadlines continue approaching. The training, you discover, will take several hours over the course of multiple days. And, there’s no way for you to speed it up, even when it covers material you are already comfortable with.

In the second scenario, you again have several hours of training to complete. But in this case, you can complete it in small chunks on your smartphone, doing it whenever you get some free time, when you stand in line for food, or when you ride the train. And, you can set your own pace with the content, moving more quickly through familiar material.

Which scenario do you prefer?

Most likely, you’d choose the one with greater flexibility. We know from extensive research that adults learn better when they have autonomy and independence. Adults like to be treated like adults, right? Flexible learning modalities give employees the opportunity to take control of their learning and to focus on the most relevant content. Let’s take a look at a few of these flexible modalities: mobile learning, on-the-job training, and concept learning.

Modality #1: Mobile Learning

The ubiquity of smartphones provides an excellent platform for continuous, on-the-go learning experiences. Trainings designed for smartphones usually incorporate microlearning, or bite-sized lessons that users can complete in short increments of time. This means that learners can complete required trainings anywhere, anytime.

This degree of freedom yields strong learner autonomy, as they get to decide when, where, and how long to complete the training. Besides autonomy, a familiar, intuitive interface increases learner motivation and retention because they don’t have to learn to navigate a system before accessing content.

For example, we worked with Beautycounter to create a mobile-based sales enablement training that allows consultants across a wide geographical area to instantly access learning opportunities that will allow them to grow. No expensive on-site training required, but all the benefits (and maybe more!).

Modality #2: On-the-Job Training

Learners also benefit from the immediate relevance of on-the-job training to their work.

Mobile training can also be used on-the-job for quick, essential skill development. Onboarding training is expensive, especially if you need to take an experienced employee away from the job to train someone new. By utilizing a mobile training platform, new hires can get up to speed quickly by completing content they need that day. Ultimately, it cuts operational cost and speeds up the training process – a win-win!

Action planners are another effective on-the-job training strategy. During training (whether online or in person), learners note what their next steps are and set small goals based on what they learned. Then they can go out and apply these skills in the workplace.

Learners also benefit from the immediate relevance of on-the-job training to their work.  Learners get the ability to practice skills in real time, which increases their confidence, and leads to increased learner motivation to succeed in the workplace. Additionally, it enables measurable behavioral change, meaning that you won’t be left wondering if your training is working.

Modality #3: Concept Learning

Concept learning is the Netflix of corporate training: choose what you like, and get suggestions for more relevant content. Reinforcing relevance enhances learner progression by building logically upon previous training.

Concepts are organized by learning objectives, ensuring an outcomes-focused learning experience, while also giving learners the autonomy to choose what to learn next. Concept-based learning also heightens retention because it highlights the connections between topics, building a strong network of knowledge rather than a collection of isolated pieces of information.  When learners know how to organize information, it’s easier to recall in the future, and easier to apply in real life.

As an example, a brand training could include broad training goals, like best practices of talking about the company to potential clients, or company-specific language. Each of these broad umbrellas could house a collection of micro-modules that offer training on key skills and information learners need to ultimately become more proficient at the targeted skill.

Flexibility is one key strategy for effective – even enjoyable – training experiences.

However, the key difference between typical eLearning and concept learning is that these modules are not organized in a linear way. Instead, they can be completed in any order based on the learner’s preference. They can choose the micro-modules that they believe will benefit them the most at a particular time.

Flexibility works!

Improving our employees’ training experiences shows them we care about their long-term success. Flexibility is one key strategy for effective – even enjoyable – training experiences. Be sure to check back next week for the final post of this month’s series on impactful training strategies.