Use Multiple Content Formats, Not Just One

Today, more and more companies recognize the importance of engaging team learning. But a logical question often is, “what should that learning look like?”

This series of blogs spells things out pretty clearly: do this when building team learning, and don’t do that. These best (and worst) practices provide a framework for effective and engaging learning that increases employee productivity and confidence.

Do This: Use multiple types of media for learning

Keeping employees engaged through training isn’t easy, but mixing learning content up with various forms of multimedia (including photos, videos, and GIFs) goes a long way. Modern learning software makes it easy to embed content like Twitter posts, Word documents, or PDFs to give Learners additional context about the subjects they’re studying. Researchers from Virginia Tech University experimented to find the effects of multimedia content on learning, and published their findings in the British Journal of Educational Technology:

The results of the present study support the previous findings that multimedia instruction facilitates basic (recall) and deep (application) knowledge acquisition.

The best time to implement multimedia elements into learning is during the planning stage. By auditing existing training materials, team leaders can identify knowledge gaps and pieces of content that may need “sprucing up.”

Think of any long, text-heavy documents that employees need to read. Is there any way infuse visual interest into that material? Breakup long blocks of text to make information more digestible. Writing expert Mary Munter told Business Communication that short paragraphs are the way to go: “Paragraphs should not average more than 200 words, 5 sentences or one-and-one-half inches of single-spaced typing.”

Such concise paragraphs easily accommodate the use photos and videos. And using a visual asset to explain or reinforce the point of a paragraph adds more depth to the Lesson. Learners benefit from such reinforcement by making stronger memories of the information presented.

Not That: Don’t write a book

A wall of words doesn’t tempt most people to dive in and read it? Few employees want to sit down at a new job with a thick book of rules and standards dropped in front of them. The same goes for a 30-page Word document. It’s cumbersome and hard to slog through. The culprit is our attention. Lessonly’s Science of Learning series touches on attention, describing the difference between goal-directed and stimulus-driven attention:

  • Goal-directed attention comes from general curiosity (i.e. who’s the actor in that television show) or motivation to accomplish something (i.e. I need to finish my chores so I can watch more television.
  • With a fixed amount of attention, stimulus-driven responses threaten to interrupt us all the time. Loud noises, emotional responses, and temperature changes are all examples of hard-wired factors that distract our focus.

Long blocks of text require our full goal-directed attention in order to absorb them. However, attention is a finite resource. Intently dissecting a dense manual uses up our attention supply, leading learners to disengage before learning what they need to know.

And don’t think that words are the only format susceptible to this. Long videos and audio clips suffer from the same attention problem. And there’s an added downside to lengthy video and audio—it can be costly to update or change. Re-recording video or audio is a time-consuming process, so managers shouldn’t take that on regularly. For a guide on how to create and, more importantly, manage videos, download our ebook about effectively using videos in training.

Effective team learning is visually engaging

Companies around the world use Lessonly to build effective learning programs that have tangible business outcomes. Take a self-guided, five-step tour of our team learning software and see how it works. Sign up today.

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