Leaders and managers are busy people. Often, they don’t have time in their demanding schedules to sit down and complete full modules of e-learning on a topic, regardless of how much they would like to. More and more individuals are accessing learning at the point of need – who hasn’t done a quick Google search and followed a YouTube tutorial when they need to fix something quickly?
Alternatively, learners may access training on the go – during their commute or between meetings. Consequently, courses need to be broken down into ‘bite-sized’ chunks which are easily accessed and understood. Importantly, the learning needs to be optimised to work on a mobile device, either a tablet or phone, and the content needs to be suitable for this format. To achieve this, Virtual College uses specialist software and extensive quality assurance processes to ensure our products can be accessed on the widest possible range of devices.
Ease of access isn’t the only benefit of bite-sized learning, Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) identifies that learners have limited working memory capacity and that training which exceeds this capacity is unhelpful. Our instructional designers employ a range of approaches to ensure our content meets the requirements of CLT to make it as effective and enjoyable for our learners as possible. These approaches include having a strong understanding of learners’ prior knowledge (expertise) and creating training which reflects this so they are not under or over challenged by the content.
Furthermore, design approaches such as incorporating labels into diagrams help to reduce the ‘split-attention’ effect, which again reduces the cognitive load on learners’ working memory. Finally, producing bite-sized learning is key to reducing the cognitive load placed on learners when undertaking a program of learning.
Mayer’s multimedia learning theory is also based on the assumption that learners can only process a finite amount of information at any one time. He suggests splitting information into auditory and visual to ease the load on each channel. Video or animated content is a great way of approaching this issue. Learners can concentrate on the visual images while still absorbing the auditory information as they are using two different memory channels at the same time.
Including video content also increases learners’ engagement with their learning by keeping their focus as it is able to transmit a large amount of information in a short space of time. Furthermore, videos help learners to visualise scenarios and relate to the content better, which increases their retention of the information. Additionally, video content is a great way to help embed behavioural change and acceptance of change.
There is clearly a strong argument that delivering your leadership and management training in accessible, bite-sized chunks which can be accessed on demand, using digital technologies and including video content is the most effective and enjoyable approach. A key point to identify is that once your leadership team are engaging with their development, this behaviour will cascade throughout your organisation.