Learning Methods

How Burst and Boost Training Improves Retention and ROI

Using post-training reinforcement to retain online learning

You may have heard the terms “burst” and “boost” training going around the learning and development industry and dismissed them as the buzz words of the month. Well, dismiss no longer.

Burst and boost training (also called post-training reinforcement) addresses the challenges of current training programs and is a must-have when training the modern learner. So let’s take a few minutes to discuss those business challenges and how post-training reinforcement helps.

Training Challenge #1: Keeping Learners Engaged

In our previous post on the modern learner, we introduced some interesting statistics from a study conducted by Bersin by Deloitte on how distracted today’s learners actually are.

The Modern Learner by Bersin by Deloitte
click to enlarge

Learners are overwhelmed, distracted and impatient, and state they only have 1% of their typical workweek to focus on training and development. Now, let’s pair that troubling statistic with cognitive psychology and how the human brain operates.

The theory of cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory, and the theory states that as learners, we have memory restrictions.

So, not only do learners have limited time to dedicate to learning a new skill, but their memory can only absorb so much content within a certain period of time.

What can we do to overcome this “limited mental bandwidth?” Chunk content into bite-sized, consumable “bursts.”

What is a Burst?

Here at BizLibrary, we use the term “burst” to describe our 5 to 7-minute micro video lessons. As we mentioned earlier, the modern learner does not have time to sit through a 1-hour eLearning course. Not only do they not have time, but research has already shown that short videos are more effective.

According to an employee report we conducted in May of 2015 on the true state of employee training, when eLearning was compared to online video training, video was more effective at teaching employees new things, improving their performance and preparing them for the future.

Employee learning delivers substantially better results when the content is delivered via online, micro-video content or as we call it, bursts.

Learners should be able to get in, complete a short video lesson on their specific need at any given time, and get back to their job. After all, isn’t the goal of providing training to your employees to teach them new things, in turn improving their performance and opportunities for future roles within your company?

Burst-style training keeps learners engaged and allows organizations to provide content that addresses the needs of today’s workplace. Burst training lowers the cognitive load while increasing the probability of the learner retaining the newly learned skill.

Training Challenge #2: Measuring Training ROI

The topic of learning retention leads us into the second challenge with today’s training programs: Effectively measuring training ROI.

Organizations spend a lot of time and a significant amount of money on training their employees. In fact, a total of 60 billion dollars is spent on employee training and development each year.

Being in the training industry, it is great to see that organizations do understand the benefits of providing training and are continuing to invest in their employees, but the scary part is how much of that investment is going down the drain because of the way the brain operates, or because it doesn’t meet the needs of today’s learners.

According to nineteenth century psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus and his theory of the forgetting curve, people forget 70% of what they learn within 24 hours of learning that new skill. That equates to 42 billion dollars being thrown away each year because learners are not able to retain the key skills from the training they are completing.

Again, we are dealing with cognitive load theory, and there comes a time during the learning process that our memory has to decide what to keep and what to get rid of.

If we are not providing our learners with an opportunity to recall the key learning objectives of the new skill, how can we ensure they will remember it in the future and successfully apply it to their jobs? Without training reinforcement, more than half of the knowledge is simply lost, along with your investment in training and development.

So what’s the solution? You guessed it. Boost the training.

To quote well-known professor, Art Kohn, Ph.D., “If your goal is to produce long-term retention, and if your goal is to produce behavior change, then what you do after training is more important than what you do during training.”

What is a Boost?

A boost is an opportunity for effortful retrieval provided to a learner in the days and weeks following training. You might have heard the phrase “use it or lose it,” which means that if we provide the brain with an opportunity to recall specific information, it will deem that information as important and encode it to long-term memory. If we do not provide that opportunity, the brain will discard the information.

Through BizLibrary’s training reinforcement feature, upon completion of a video lesson or video course, learners are given the option to enroll into a booster program, which includes 4 boosts over a 2-week time period.

These boosts (delivered via email) include different types of questions which ask the learner to recall specific information from the recently completed video burst (micro-video lesson). This process ensures they retain the information they’ve learned.

By boosting the training in the days and weeks following learning, you can reset the forgetting curve and maximize long-term retrieval of the new information.

Burst + Boost = One Happy Training Experience

In conclusion, the solution is simple. Providing learners with the unique combination of short, microlearning “bursts” and training reinforcement “boosts” will significantly increase learning retention, along with your training ROI.

In fact, the evidence shows that adding multiple reinforcements to training programs will increase retention from approximately 20% to more than 90%.

To experience burst and boost training for yourself, be sure to request a free demo of our online training solutions!

Vice President of Marketing at BizLibrary | Erin's role allows her to continually help improve BizLibrary's online learning solutions through a strong understanding of the needs of training and development professionals. She has gained deep insight into the industry and provides vision and messaging that helps organizations to find the training solutions they're looking for.