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Are you open to some out-of-the-box thinking? Then I invite you to follow my idea about Next Generation Mandatory Trainings.

We all know that learning is mentally taxing. So, why would we assume that people want to spend additional time learning something, especially when it is labeled as “mandatory”? Doesn´t it sound like: compulsory, unavoidable, obligatory, in other words: “THERE IS. No. Escape.”

I mean, we all understand the significance of these trainings and its relation to bigger, strategic organizational goals. But seldomly these trainings do pique employee´s interest, engage them, and continuously compel them to keep on learning. This is only possible if you learn from the one trait that all ads, marketing content, and compelling stories have in common: they value their viewers’ time, their knowledge and capacity to absorb the content.

Here are three simple tricks to get learners to buy into “mandatory training”:

Condensing the content

We better accept that employee’s focus is a scarce resource. And secondly, that people will skim and scan learning content rather than read everything in detail. Consequently, shorter training courses engage employees better and allow them to retain more knowledge. Let´s call it microlearning. It´s about breaking down the content into short modules of 3–5 minutes each. Even the busiest employees can find the time to go through the course if it promises quick returns (e.g. during commute). Instead of a 40 minutes e-learning module we could cover the same content by 10 modules, 4 minutes each.

Respecting the learner´s existing knowledge

When we know the learner´s existing knowledge, a lot of course material could be offloaded in supplementary resources (which they may view if they want to recap a concept). Some employees may not need to go through each topic in the course in their entirety. Quizzes used at the beginning of the course could give learners the option of “checking off” content from the course outline before continuing. This way they only learn what they do not yet know and it would be a great way of appealing to their experience and expert knowledge and hence increase engagement.

Adding gamification to increase engagement

Gamification is the application of gaming mechanics to non-gaming scenarios such as learning. This can be done by adding badges, achievements and points to a training course. The better learners understand and retain the learning content, the more points they get which affects their position on the leaderboard. Such elements of game mechanics and competition are scientifically proven to increase active participation significantly and – most of all – make learning a fun experience.

If I got your head banging by now one question remains: how could these three tricks be implemented? Look no further: in Nokia we already have it!

MindSpace – the learning application which allows people to learn in small chunks, repeat learning through spaced repetition and thus retain knowledge and – finally – gamification is what could transform legacy mandatory trainings into something new, more engaging and more effective.

Just recently, the largest organization in Global Services decided to train all their employees on top notch technologies like 5G, IoT, Analytics, DevOps and others using this very method. For a start, within merely two weeks 1000 GSD employees have registered voluntarily to participate in learning the basics about Nokia Cloud Solutions with MindSpace. And they just love it!

Many other organizations are getting curious about this modern learning method, too, and want to test-drive it themselves.

It is my firm belief that mandatory trainings will be different going forward. They will use microlearning, spaced repetition, gamification – or a combination of them all – to get employees engaged, make sure they not only learn but also retain knowledge and value people´s time spent for learning.

What´s your view on this?