A common myth within the learning and development (L&D) space — and human thought in general — is the idea that more is better.
This concept is especially prevalent in L&D when onboarding new employees. Employees join a new company and spend their first several weeks in an onboarding program, learning about the company, its products, the market, customers, competitors and their role within the organization. Countless hours are spent in training or on eLearning so, in theory, new team members will be able to quickly contribute and provide value to the company.
Information overload oftens occurs with the launch of new products and services, the sales kick-off or annual company meeting, implementation of new processes, new regulations or even mergers and acquisitions. These all have a steep learning curve and require agile learning and mastery to have an immediate effect.
That theory — as well as the “more is better” approach — is flawed, especially in knowledge-intensive, highly complex or highly regulated industries or job roles.
Here’s why. Our knowledge after learning something new naturally decreases over time — itʼs called the forgetting curve and it is a human phenomenon. Studies show that in as little as 30 days, 79 percent of information is forgotten. That failure isn’t necessarily indicative of the training content, or the overall onboarding program; it’s the result of learning implemented in a way that is counterintuitive to how the human brain works.
That’s why more and more L&D pros are embracing the Minimum Effective Dose (MED) concept, a key microlearning strategy that not only delivers improved knowledge retention and long-term behavior change results, but does so in just minutes a day.
MED is simply presenting the smallest dose of information that will produce the desired outcome, whether that’s creating a new habit, changing behavior or ensuring the retention of information — like in employee onboarding programs and ongoing training.
Apply the MED for Microlearning Success
Many people think of microlearning as taking macro content and chopping it up into three-, four- or five-minute snippets. That’s not the case. With the MED, microlearning is better thought of like taking a prescription; it’s not a one-time dose or quick fix. It calls for precise, timely and consistent repetition to achieve the desired effect and outcome — like taking two pills a day for a week rather than a one-time single dose.
When evaluating microlearning platforms, consider if they effectively incorporate MED best practices, including learning that is:
- Topic- or problem-based (helps with self assessment)
- Incorporates text or short video to reinforce key points
- Accomplished in a few minutes or less
- Within the daily flow of work
Additionally, look for a solution that offers context-rich scenarios that put the learner in a problem-solving position where they are cognitively challenged and can practically apply their learning to real-life scenarios and simulations.
Microlearning solutions should deliver continuous learning based on the MED to adapt to each person’s mastery of the information; rewarding those who have mastered the learning content and giving additional support and learning opportunities to those who need more help.
When it comes to retaining information through employee onboarding programs and other knowledge-intensive L&D initiatives, more is not better; better is better.
Here’s an example of the MED in action to achieve better results:
A diversified financial services firm was looking to improve its messaging alignment, objection handling and competitive-threat management. Its challenges were client acquisition and retention, being in a competitive market place, and differentiating their product from competitors.
The firm implemented Qstream’s best-practice microlearning platform for a product launch of four new exchange-traded funds (ETFs) in hopes of finding consistent messaging regarding the value proposition of their services and properly handling competitive threats.
The training was done in three business regions, had 100 percent engagement and showed 14 percent proficiency gains in just eight weeks. It worked that fast and that quickly, showing how successful repetition through MED leads to competence, which leads to confidence, and, ultimately, leads to success.
MED is one of five microlearning principles that are proven to change employee behavior and increase knowledge retention. Watch the free webinar to learn more about how microlearning done well can impact team, business or organizational outcomes.