Organizations worldwide invest billions of dollars each year in corporate learning programs but research shows that traditional learning practices are not working and too much of that investment is wasted. There has to be a better way, especially now that organizations are increasingly relying on remote learning to connect with, engage and share key concepts with their employees.

This blog post and our recent webinar, The Science Behind Successful Learning, the first in Qstream’s Content Development Webinar Series, is intended to help you activate the science of successful learning and understand what you can do differently so that the time (and cost) of learning is lower while continuing to deliver higher proficiency outcomes.

Qstream’s Science-Driven Learning Origin

Qstream was co-founded by spaced education pioneer, Dr. Price Kerfoot, whose renowned series of clinical trials conducted at Harvard Medical School uncovered the power and impact of knowledge reinforcement through microlearning. These clinical trials challenged traditional learning methods, including the efficacy of learning management systems (LMS). If you haven’t had the opportunity to hear Price’s perspective, this short video provides a summary of his research and results.

As Dr. Kerfoot mentions in the video, mass learning does not work. Qstream provides the tools to transform learning content into programs that people truly remember. The core methodology behind this is the testing effect and the spacing effect:

  • The testing effect means that issuing a learning exercise as a quiz or challenge produces better learning and remembering.
  • The spacing effect means that spacing out microlearning challenges over time activates the power of memory for long-term knowledge retention.

Qstream’s software is designed to reflect this and other elements of Dr. Price Kerfoot’s research. In the Content Development Webinar Series, you’ll learn how to combine Qstream’s technology with high-quality content to create a truly engaging microlearning program that resonates with your learners.

Designing Effective and Engaging Learning Content

With Dr. Kerfoot’s testing, spacing and game-mechanic elements incorporated into Qstream’s software and algorithms, the next step is to rethink how you create learning content.

Here are three steps for creating content that learners actually engage with, pay attention to and most importantly remember months or even years from now.

1. Create Microlearning Challenges for Active Learning

A lot of learning content is packed into lengthy SCORM courses that are stuck in an LMS. People don’t have the patience to sit through these courses and retain the information being presented. As noted above, this makes sense in the context of science: people are not wired to passively consume and digest large volumes of learning content this way.

Instead of asking people to learn from the digital deluge of information they receive every day, Qstream fosters active engagement by presenting content as interactive microlearning challenges. But, with people being used to packing content into traditional formats like PowerPoint, how can organizations compose microlearning challenges that grab their employees’ attention?

Here are the best practices used by Qstream’s Client Services team when advising customers on how to create high-quality microlearning content:

  • Quality: high-quality content should be clear, concise and have an easily identifiable takeaway message.
  • Relevant: the content should be directly relevant to the learners’ job and the key competencies needed to be successful in their role. This is referred to as the “what’s in it for me” factor. Research demonstrates that learning is stronger and captures attention when it matters most to the people engaging with the content.
  • Difficulty level: microlearning challenges should be presented at the correct difficulty level for the audience to ensure optimum engagement. Challenges that are perceived to be too easy or indeed too difficult will cause frustration and ultimately result in the learner disengaging.
  • Review: it may seem like a basic point but reviewing content for both accuracy and ambiguity is incredibly important because if either exists in the question it negatively affects engagement.
  • Feedback: offering corrective feedback at the moment someone answers a question prevents people from leaving the learning scenario with an incorrect assumption or embedded misunderstanding. This reinforces the importance of clear and concise explanations for all Qstream challenges.
2. Use Game Mechanics to Foster Friendly Competition

Game mechanics aren’t just about fun and games. It’s about using the power of encouragement and influence to motivate learners to engage initially, stay engaged throughout the program and compete in a fun way against their peers. CIO Review recognized Qstream’s success in gamification by selecting the solution as a leader in its annual ranking of gamification providers worldwide.

Placing microlearning challenges in the context of game mechanics reinforces how learners engage with content. Elements of effective microlearning game mechanics include:

  • Reinforcement Reward: studies show that participants are primarily motivated by status and recognition as a reward for taking part in competitive learning programs more so than monetary or tangible rewards.
  • Leaderboard Visibility: status and recognition can be achieved through the use of leaderboard competitions throughout your microlearning program.
  • Team Rankings: team rankings encourage individuals to show the excellence of their group and by doing so influence all members of the team to engage fully to raise the communal score relative to other teams.
3. Visual Impact

The way learning is being done today is boring. Modern learners have high expectations when it comes to the visual impact and user experience. A poor visual experience is a distraction from the learning, regardless of how important or compelling a topic may be.

Here are some of the ways that you can offer mobile microlearning in a manner that has a real impact.

  • Video content: YouTube reports that every day a billion hours of video are viewed on its platform which underscores the incredible reach of video. This is how people prefer to consume content, making it a compelling and valuable part of a Qstream challenge.
  • Memorable images: the part of the brain that processes words is actually quite small compared to the part that processes visual images. Incorporating images and visual content in the initial questions and explanations greatly increases the likelihood that a learner will remember the content.
  • Humor: humor is proven to engage learners and help them remember content over time.
  • Simple and Short: it’s called microlearning for a reason: 2 minutes or less per challenge creates an experience that has an impact, engages learners and is respectful of their time.

The Qstream Client Services Team has years of experience advising customers on the best ways to construct programs that are founded by science and perfected through content best practices. The best designed microlearning content will improve engagement and by doing so, increase individual and team proficiency. Watch the recording of the first session, The Science Behind Successful Learning to learn more.

Be sure to watch the other two parts of the Qstream Content Development Webinars Series:

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