At the start of the 21st Century online information exchange in the form of email messages and blog posts typically consisted of multiple paragraphs of text, and videos clips averaging several minutes. Two decades later, these have been joined by short-form social media including Twitter, Tik Tok and Instagram Reels and messaging platforms WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger. These convey bite-size information, as single sentences, images, or video measured in seconds.
Rather than posing a threat to the length of attention spans, short-form media offer opportunities for training to extend its hybrid learning mix, moving beyond learning based solely on face-to-face sessions, or even extended computer-based e-learning. Adding short-form learning – bite-sized chunks of information – delivered straight to learners, fits contemporary communication habits, and adds another layer to the basic hybrid of classroom and online learning.
The most effective courses are likely to blend all these formats, plus other reinforcing tactics drawn from the marketing and advertising worlds and computer game design, to create a campaign learning approach. Learning from face-to-face and online sessions can be driven home or supplemented by text alerts, messages, and videos on business social networks, workplace posters, meetings, and management tours.
These different elements of hybrid learning can also reinforce each other. For example, phone or tablet push alerts sent in the weeks after classroom or online sessions, can remind learners of key course points. These can combat the learning fade which can otherwise happen as soon as an extended training session ends.
Increasing the frequency of training touch points has benefits beyond aiding information retention. In the context of a safety learning campaign, regularly sending employees learning messages can remind individuals of the importance their employer places on safety and on safe behaviour. This is one of the ways that a positive safety culture is constructed piece by piece. It also breaks down the separation of training from the point of work, merging learning with daily operations and minimising time away from the workplace.
The proportions of each medium in the blend for a course will be dictated by its specific content and audience. Courses where learning needs to be verified by learners demonstrating they can complete a task to a required standard, as in safety-critical procedures, will often still require face-to-face learning and/or assessment. Short-form messaging via phones or other media lends itself to lessons which are easily summarised, and not highly nuanced.
Any type of campaign, whether its goals are military, political or product promotion, only succeeds with careful planning, and campaign learning is no exception. As well as the nature of the content, the mixture of media and style of messaging you choose should be guided by the profile of the trainees: age, job profile and other relevant factors such as the organisational culture.
The aims of any training programme are to deliver messages that resonate with learners, raise their awareness levels and, if necessary, change their behaviour. In the 2020’s, the most effective training messages are likely to be those that leverage the freedom technology brings whilst recognising how the people it is reaching like to communicate.
NEBOSH is a charity who have been developing relevant, recognised and respected health, safety, risk, wellbeing and environmental qualifications for over 40 years. So far, almost half a million people from around the world have achieved a NEBOSH qualification, and use the knowledge and skills gained to keep colleagues safe and well in their workplace.
We offer three services that have been created to help organisations further their learning and development goals. These are: Qualifications, Bespoke Qualifications and NEBOSH Endorsed.
We have worked with Great Britain’s Regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to develop safety qualifications covering a range of topics including manual handling, incident investigation and risk assessment. We have also developed a bespoke qualification for their Health and Safety Inspectors, a service we provide to other customers including BP.
NEBOSH Endorsed aims to help organisations elevate their in-company offering and deliver measurable behavioural change that contributes to healthier and safer workplaces.