Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Keep training short ... but how short?

When it comes to elearning, we’ve been told that keeping it short can improve retention, but cutting it down too much can backfire. So, how do we know when short is too short?

“It used to be that formal learning programs in a corporate environment could be a week long. People would pack up and spend an intensive five days in a dedicated facility and immerse themselves in a new skill set.

Then the tolerance by employees and middle managers for a formal learning program shifted to two days. Then one day. Then half a day. Then one hour. Now it is probably about fifteen minutes,” according to Simulation Designer Clark Aldrich on his Simulations and Serious Games blog.

Of course, technology has improved instructional design, significantly reducing the amount of time it takes to complete training and learning courses. And since the advent of Google, we’ve been trained to find and learn information using the fastest methods available.

Whether it’s in response to the recession or not, training has gone from weekly retreats to days of on-site training, to an hour-long webinar. We’re trying to get the most bang for our buck by racing through a mountain of information as quickly as possible.

What do you think? Is it possible that we’re losing out on quality because we’re so focused on efficiency? Are we trying to squeeze too much training and learning into a window of time that’s way too short?

Is cramming it all into 15 minutes ever a good thing?


Angel in the Shadow said...

Not too short, you have to take into account learning styles and types of stimuli. 15 minutes, I would question the validity of learning something so important in that period of time.

Alicia Lemke said...

I've been conducting safety training for almost 15 years. I've found the tolerance for training time for employees / operators to be about the same - as fast as possible. I also think, however, that multiple short sessions may be just as, if not more, effective than one long session. It's put in front of their face repeatedly and (hopefully) drilled in.

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