“Hi, welcome to McLearning. How can I help you today? “
“Erm, hi, I’d like to order some of the learning nuggets, please. Oh, and some highly engaging dipping sauce.”
It can’t be just me who pictures interactions like that when I hear eLearning ideas such as Learning Nuggets described. I wish these came in a delicious layer of bread crumbs, but there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a tasty snack while reading this article.
What are Learning Nuggets?
One thing the humble chicken nugget and learning nuggets do have in common is their bite-size nature. They are standalone, tiny learning activities that usually take less than 5 minutes to complete. It takes the principles of micro-learning and compresses it further.
Learning nuggets can be just about anything learning-related. Including:
- scenario-based questions
- reflection questions
The method of delivery involves push-technology. You may have heard the term kicking about but never knew why it is called a push notification. The data is pushed to a device rather than pulled via a request made by the user. PING! It’s time for your daily dose of soft skills. The prompts can come via email, phone, or even computer notification.
Learning Nuggets, Learning Threads, and Subscription Learning
Individual learning nuggets make up a type of learning style called subscription learning. Those who subscribe to the learning are provided with a stream or thread of learning nuggets.
These learning threads can be:
- Predesigned: created based on what the learning designer has anticipated and hopefully researched, the learning needs to be.
- Dynamic: able to shift and change depending on learner outcomes and new business needs.
Is Subscription Learning Delivery Only?
No, or at least it doesn’t have to be. Talking at learners is not sufficient. It is much better to engage them in a dialogue. Learning nuggets can be part of a hybrid-systems, where learners are prompted to discuss their learning via a slack channel or similar.
How are Learning Nuggets Created?
You just walked into the office. Your boss wants you to launch a 60-minute course on customer rapport building. Brilliant, an hour isn’t all that long, right? It wouldn’t be if you were teaching it in person, but since you’re creating an eLearning module, an hour is far too long for most, if not all, learners to be able to keep their attention spans up. This means you either get frantic rewinding when they’ve inevitably not been able to pay attention and thus making their learning far more painful and more prolonged than necessary. Or they just let it wash over them, not taking much in. A waste of their time and yours!
- Divide by 12: Twelve itty-bitty 5-minute sessions are more palatable than one block of 60 minutes.
- Space Learning. Human beings can learn and recall new information and concepts better if we learn them in multiple, repeatable, spread-out segments.
- No more than 5 minutes. Beyond that time, thoughts go drifting to the laundry that needs doing or the dinner that needs making.
- Make use of different media. No need for that one-hour class to be replaced all by video segments.
- Rinse and repeat. You can use subscription learning and learning nuggets to repeat knowledge and check knowledge retention.
Combining learning nuggets and gamification is a match made in heaven. The last few years have seen a trend in the broader acceptance of gamified learning. It is no longer seen as something trivial and can be seen even in the most rigid finance institutions. Gamifying learning nuggets can create a social and collaborative aspect via leaderboards or scorecards. The completion rates tend to be higher, and they offer higher retention and recall. Imagine a personalized learning path that takes on the actual shape of a course, a sort of eLearning Oregon Trail. Each stop along the route has its associated learning nugget. By the end, the learner comes to the all-important bigger picture. Bingo!
Positives of Learning Nuggets
- Speedy: practical learning nuggets can close a small learning gap very quickly.
- Appealing: shorter learnings make it possible for a broader amount of people to engage with content.
- Disability Friendly: see above in regards to more concise content being more available. The human attention span is just 8 seconds.
- Retention: Research has shown that short bursts of learning enable learners to retain information.
- Self-Management is Empowering: signing up for subscription learning puts the incentive on the learner and can help shift attitudes to education.
- Avoid Overwhelm: the workday is filled with new duties left, right, and center. Making learning small and appealing doesn’t make it feel like another thing to add to the list.
- Budget: reduced time spent on training coupled with enhanced training effectiveness is a sweet spot for companies on a tight budget.
Negatives of Learning Nuggets
- Not for Complex Learning: if you can’t teach it in an hour, to begin with, splitting it into smaller segments won’t work.
- What big picture? Sometimes throwing small segments at people has them lose track of the why of the learning process.
- Confusing: The fragmented nature can lead to people getting confused. See above in terms of the big picture.
How to Integrate Learning Nuggets into L&D Strategy
- Hybrid Learning: combine formal, informal, and more experimental learning methods as a way to test out what works on your learners. This approach is more likely to give you data that allows you to get management buy-in.
- Mobile Learning: your learners most likely have access to mobile devices, and allowing custom learning nuggets for smartphones makes them more able to tune in on their own time.
- On-the-job: learning nuggets make it possible to integrate small learning moments into your employee training schedule. Onboarding microlearning nuggets can be interspersed with on-the-job training easily without creating the dreaded week of continuous online learning.
Learning nuggets are an ideal sprinkling of learning throughout most learning strategies. Allow learners to buy into learning threads. Just don’t forget to combine it with the occasional big-picture overview to avoid confusion.