Online Training: Tips for Making the Most of the Experience

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Organizations are constantly looking for innovative ways to share new knowledge with their employees. Why innovative? Because in the digital age, sitting in a classroom in front of a teacher, a blackboard or a PowerPoint presentation just doesn’t cut it anymore.

These days, online training is the way to go – provided you use the right tools in the right way. Here are some of the challenges to overcome:

  • Microsoft has evaluated that a human being’s capacity for concentration has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015[1]. It’s easy to understand why: today, most information is passed along “Twitter-style”, i.e. condensed to the max. Therefore, any training initiative must be designed for optimal retention of information, in order to combat shorter attention spans and the cognitive saturation that results from the huge quantity of information we’re bombarded with every day.
  • Nearly 37% of workers now have positions that require mobility[2] – a factor that must be taken into consideration in any training effort.
  • For 51% of us, cellular phones have become the main digital transmitter of information[3]. This means that computers are no longer the default learning tools they once were.

For all these reasons, training strategies are increasingly being developed on collaborative online platforms.

Why We’re Turning to Microlearning

Microlearning is a learning process that sequences information in brief segments (generally 30 seconds to 3 minutes long). Today, software developed to design and then “consume” microlearning training sessions can integrate text, images, graphics, audio and video, making it all accessible on smart phones, tablets and computers.

In terms of content, these specialized platforms are designed for the daily transmission of a few multiple-choice questions associated with various internal training modules. This is perfectly aligned with current information acquisition models, i.e. a series of small snacks rather than one big meal.

In my opinion, microlearning solutions must be chosen based on the following benefits:

Flexibility & Effectiveness

Participants must be able to follow the training program remotely, on the device of their choice.


Participants should be able to acquire knowledge in a context where they play an active role, i.e. through gamification (for example, competing with colleagues and scoring points for every correct answer).

Real-time Monitoring

The ability to monitor each individual’s progress by measuring their success rate for each module.

Customized Targeting

The ability to identify weaknesses and have participants repeat any modules they haven’t assimilated.

A Worthwhile Experience, If…

Our experience in this field has allowed us to identify some “winning conditions” for success:

  1. Test Your Content

It’s imperative to test your content on different devices, to make sure your platform is responsive on every screen.

  1. Combine Online Learning with Face-to-Face Training

Studies have shown that a combined approach increases success rates.

  1. Set Deadlines

To sustain momentum and quickly achieve desired results, it’s essential to give trainees very clear deadlines and to follow up with any laggards.

  1. Ensure Individual Monitoring

It’s important to accompany trainees throughout their training period, to ensure their online experience is as rewarding as possible.

  1. Communicate

Communicating before, during and after the training period allows you to reinforce the implementation of the acquired knowledge, and ensure that good habits will last in the long term.

Online training is definitely the go-to solution for companies who want to provide their staff with ongoing education. The good news is that the tools available today are increasingly flexible and adapted to specific needs. Still, the right tool isn’t enough. It’s up to each of us to make sure we reap the maximum business benefits through personalized monitoring mechanisms, as well as communication strategies that are perfectly aligned with our objectives.

[1] Microsoft Attention Spans, Spring 2015 | @msadvertisingca #msftattnspans
[2] Empowering the Workforce for Business Transformation: Worldwide and U.S. Forecast for Mobility, 2014–2019 (September 2015)
[3] eMarketer | Time spent per adult user per day with Digital Media, USA 2008-2015