‘Quick Learning Modules’ Train as Fast as Technology Changes

By Evan Stuckless and Evelyn Toro

As technology advances, the world becomes more globalized and attention spans shrink. Learning and development leaders have to find new ways to keep up. One of the more effective methods on the market today is quick learning modules (QLMs).

Derived from the Sharable Content Object Resource Model, or SCORM, QLMs are short e-learning sessions on a focused topic that can stand alone, as well as make up part of a more comprehensive course. While they can be short like the bite-size pieces learning leaders have been using for years, QLMs tend to be more complete modules that run between 10 and 20 minutes.

This makes them the perfect solution to span the gap between more traditional long form courses and micro-learning knowledge chunks.

They are especially effective as part of a blended learning program. For example, Cisco often uses QLMs as reinforcement for its internal events such as a meeting to announce a variety of security enhancements. In this scenario, the company is able to publish a short recap within a week or two that is comprehensive enough to provide people who could not attend the original event with a solid overview of what was discussed.

QLMs can be developed quickly and be completed in a matter of days or weeks. Because they are so short, the review cycles are usually less complicated as well, which makes it easier to track project progress than traditional training programs that can take a year or more to develop. This makes them perfect for SaaS companies that work in short sprints and allows learning leaders to make their course development strategies more agile.

Breaking a comprehensive learning program into a series of QLMs by terminal learning objectives makes it easier to update as things change down the line. Rather than redoing the entire course, one can simply update the module that was affected by the change. This way leaders can incorporate updates as needed and avoid creating learning programs that are out of date before they are even published. Plus, learners can take the modules one at a time or all at once depending on their schedule.

Despite the proliferation of smartphones and tablets — Gartner estimates that more than 54 million employees are involved in some form of remote work — most traditional e-learning courses are not easily accessible via mobile devices. The good news is most QLMs are created as video on-demand, which are by nature mobile friendly. Simply upload the module to Vimeo or YouTube, or convert it to an MP4 and add it to a proprietary site, and share the link. Then, employees can access them remotely at will.

For example, a sales rep may pull into a parking lot a few minutes early and review a QLM about the sales strategy or technology updates on a smartphone to brush up on talking points or value propositions before a meeting. Better yet, by adding narrated text to the training module, the rep can listen to it during the time spent driving to the sales call.

There are also several tools on the market, such as MobilePaks, to make these modules interactive and boost engagement through widgets such as knowledge checks and flash cards. Naturally, managers would want to discourage sales reps from using these while driving, but they can be great for the waiting room or public transportation.

QLMs also can help leaders communicate with diverse staff. By using templates and shells it’s easier and more cost-effective to translate learning into multiple languages. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Make sure learning is not too U.S. centric. Avoid slang or idiomatic expressions and images or concepts that cannot be accurately adapted to multiple cultures and beliefs.
  2. Be clear, concise and consistent. Write the source content at a sixth- to eighth-grade level, use active voice and eliminate the verb “to be” as much as possible.
  3. Make room for text expansion. Text often expands or contracts quite a bit when it is translated, so don’t embed it in images. Also, cut up audio files into chunks for each individual slide to make room for longer narration.
  4. Keep narrators to a minimum. The more voiceover actors required to perform narration, the more time consuming and expensive it is to translate it.

When done correctly, QLMs are a great way to get learning programs out to a global, mobile workforce fast and boost knowledge retention.

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