The Rise of Training Podcasts in a Blended Learning Program

Training Podcasts in a Blended Learning Program

Blended learning is not just a trend— technology is being integrated into learning in all sorts of innovative ways, and that includes training podcasts.

Podcasts – digital audio series that users can download or stream – are great at distilling complex topics into digestible pieces, because their informal nature relaxes listeners. People can tune in during their commute, lunch break, or even over the weekend.

Podcasts have proven to be a wildly successful medium to interview creative experts, listen to fictional stories, learn new skills, and more. Training podcasts can be leveraged as part of a larger blended learning program to increase retention and reflection.

Let’s take a look at a few ways to incorporate them.

1. Leadership Training/Soft Skills
Training podcasts are a great way to build leadership skills and emotional intelligence because they push learners to personal reflection more than most training modalities. For instance, leaders can discuss strategies they’ve used to develop skills by giving examples of areas where those skills play a key role. Once the podcast is over, an eLearning course can prompt learns to reflect on the discussions they’ve heard and continue to grow their personal leadership toolkit.

2. Sustainment
Podcasts can also be an excellent resource for sustainment training. After completing a training program, learners’ workbooks can include prompts at 30, 60, and 90 days (or different lengths of time), so they can deep dive on key aspects of the training. At each checkpoint, learners can listen to a podcast, answer prompts to reflect on what they’ve heard, and then have a 1:1 meeting with their manager to discuss what they learned. Training podcasts are a great way to bring back key topics and dig deeper into them, so learners are reminded to incorporate key themes into everyday work.

3. Increase engagement and understanding
When added as part of a blended pre-learning program before a live instructor-led course, podcasts help get early buy-in from participants. Before a course starts, learners gain insight into the topic at hand, and then apply it once the course begins. When facilitators and company leaders get involved within the podcast, as interviewers or interviewees, it can add weight to key topics and get learners to focus even more.

Podcasts are a popular creative tool, and it’s exciting to see their applications in learning and development, since they deliver such a dynamic experience. As trends change and companies innovate, you’ll see that the organizations that embrace new tools and methods of storytelling will start to implement training podcasts as a way to make learning more creative and objective.

Need help navigating these new trends? Let us help. Schedule a free training consultation with one of our training content experts to learn how!

How To Combat The Forgetting Curve

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How many times have you focused really hard in an effort to learn something once just to forget it later on? For most of us, it’s a regular occurrence. Over time, memories fade. Good memories, bad memories, important memories…all of them. That doesn’t mean we forget everything entirely – just that the details become fuzzy. If those details are important, that could be a serious problem. 

The forgetting curve is a hypothesis that attempts to illustrate the loss of memory over time with no attempt to retain it. The idea began in the 1880s when Hermann Ebbinghaus conducted a study on himself. He tried to memorize patterns of syllables and then tested his memory of those syllables repeatedly over time. What he found after graphing his results is now commonly known as the Forgetting Curve. 

After his study, Ebbinghaus surmised that humans lose ~50% of newly learned knowledge in a matter of days without continuous review. You’re wasting your time training and learning just so you can forget half of it. Try remembering that information weeks or months later and you’d be lucky to remember 10-25% of it. 

The best way to combat the forgetting curve is by spending time on retention and reinforcement. Remembering the knowledge learned from one-time trainings is difficult. But when it comes to business, forgetting is costly. One-time trainings cost a lot, and if your learners aren’t retaining what they learned, that money was for nothing. Reviewing material regularly greatly helps reduce forgetfulness and saves money for your organization. 

 

Blended Learning and Sustainment

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Refresher training adds to the concept of blended learning. Your learners retain information and knowledge better and for longer if they’re taught through a mixture of learning methods. That could be combining eLearning
with face-to-face for instance.

Every learner has a unique learning style. By blending your training approach, you have a better chance of catering to the needs of each of your learners. 

It’s not only about the learners, though. Blended learning benefits the teacher, too. New, different training modalities are often more affordable and require less time than older ones. Students are often more engaged, and you’ll be more able to provide accurate feedback. Blended learning also allows teachers to focus on motivating learners towards deeper learning. 

With regards to memory, a learner is far more likely to pay attention to and remember information when they’re interested and focused. Varying training modalities increases the odds that your learners will find it interesting. 

 

What Makes for Ideal Refresher Training?

There are certain traits that make for successful refresher training

• Quick
Learners are busy. Sustainment training options need to be speedy, valuable, and allow learners to practice with minimal disruption.

• Compelling and Clear
Training options should be fun and interactive while keeping language clear and concise to simplify complex concepts.

• Contextual
Refresher training has to fit with your learners’ experiences and be relevant to their day-to-day jobs. That can only be accomplished with an understanding of your learners and what they do and then catering to their real-world experiences.

 

The Case for Shorter Event-Based Trainings

 

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Event-based trainings are still very popular among many companies and rightfully so. Instructor-led trainings have their place in unifying a team, sharing a consistent message, and sometimes forcing your employees not to be distracted when sharing vital information. 

However, we’ve seen that if you reduce your two-day training down to one-day and use the saved expenses for pre-work and post-event refreshers, your message will be stickier and have more of an impact on learners. 

Consider the following illustration we mocked up for one of our clients to visualize the potential savings gained from shortening, blending, and making your training virtual – all-the-while adding reinforcement and the ability to reuse and scale! 

The results, in this case, were significant. This company saw a similar satisfaction score from transitioning their previous event-based training to virtual instructor-led training and better yet, they were able to prove ROI with knowledge checks and quizzes. 

 

Refresher Training Options

Today, blended learning options that combat the conundrum of forgetfulness are as diverse as your learners. Here are a few sustainment
options that should be considered in your training curriculum: 

• Interactive Presentations
Interactive presentations act as two tools in one. Learners are able to reinforce knowledge and visualize complex products and services (ex. the difference between internet speeds) by using interactive modules. These presentations can also switch to a “Perform” mode to be used and shared with prospects or clients. Robust reporting measures all user activity so managers can provide guidance for their learners.

• Huddles
Huddles are in-person refresher training that drives retention by using fast-paced, hands-on activities. Facilitators lead Huddles to help employees review specific learning objectives, practice skills and behaviors, and get feedback on the spot. They’re also super easy to facilitate as each one comes with a playbook providing step-by-step instructions on how to prepare for and run a Huddle.

• Games
Studies show that games train the brain by engaging with social and competitive elements. These elements heighten attention, sustain focus, and drive action. And let’s be real, they’re fun. The results speak for themselves:

• 3x increase in training material interactions
• 64% improvement in knowledge from beginning to end of a game Plain and simple, training for one day a year does not work.

Don’t waste your money and time on training that won’t be remembered a week later. It’s time to give your learners valuable refreshers in the flow of their work and for you to stop hitting your head against a wall wondering why skills are not improving and behaviors are not changing.

Training Delivery Methods: Choosing the Right Modality for Your Content

Content is a huge focus in the training world, though it’s really only one part of the learning equation. The magic happens, though, when strong content is shared through the most effective training delivery methods, enabling the message to be absorbed, retained, and implemented by learners.

Whether your aim is to impart knowledge, sharpen skills, or adjust behaviors, there are a lot of different methods of training delivery to choose from. But there’s no silver bullet. In fact, data continues to prove a blended approach, incorporating more than one modality to deliver your content, increases retention by up to 60%.

So, how do you determine the most effective training delivery methods for your needs? Start by considering the options available and how they align with your goals, audience, and content.

Below is a list of our recommendations.

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Training Delivery Methods for Building Knowledge

When we speak about training for knowledge, we’re referring to helping learners understand the what and the why of a concept. To tackle these topics, the training delivery methods we recommend hinge greatly on well-organized information and storytelling. These include:

  • Podcasts
    Borrowing from the popular media format, Podcasts are an excellent way to educate team members, allowing them to absorb information at their own pace in a familiar style.
  • Infographics
    Visual tools help to reinforce concepts, and the Infographic remains a popular delivery method as it clearly outlines vital data and information in a memorable and engaging way.
  • Animations
    Another popular visual option, Animations are a great way to educate learners. By imparting critical information in an entertaining way, you can increase both retention and engagement.
  • Group Discussions
    Part team-building, part training, Guided Group Discussions are a great way to build relationships among team members while educating them on key concepts.
  • Boost
    These interactive modules from Unboxed’s Training Technology team organize key concepts in an interactive, data-based tool, making it effective for knowledge acquisition and knowledge sustainment (refresher training).

Training Delivery Methods for Improving Knowledge & Skills

Building on those, there are several modalities that bridge both knowledge and skills, helping learners to understand the how behind the what and the why. This category of modalities includes:

  • Instructor-Led Trainings (in-person or virtual)
    Instructor Led Training (ILT) or Virtual Instructor Led Training (vILT) allows you to build upon learned knowledge by giving learners a chance to put knowledge and skills into practice through classroom activities.The bonus of vILT is it allows you to reach learners near and far with training that’s as equally engaging, interactive, and effective as in-person training — without the pricey travel costs.
  • Interactive Learning Guides
    Self-paced and fully interactive, our Interactive Learning Guides (ILG) keep learners engaged at every step. With a modern, web-like interface, video, animation, gamification, and interactive exercises, ILGs create an engaging experience for learners, making them effective for both knowledge and skills training.
  • Videos
    Taking cues from what many learners engage in on their own time, training videos are an incredibly popular choice to help learners improve their skills in addition to reinforcing their knowledge.

Training Delivery Methods for Sharpening Skills & Behaviors

Moving further into training for skills, the delivery methods below allow you to focus more deeply on the tactical responsibilities of your team. These modalities also lend themselves to training for behaviors, educating learners on the action taken, and include:

  • Group Participation, Hands-On Activities, Role Plays, On-the-Floor Training, Mentor Shadowing
    Each of these training delivery methods differs in their approach but share the same goal: to allow team members to improve their skills in settings and situations where they actually use them.

Training Delivery Methods for Shaping Behaviors

Behavior-specific training goes one step further, allowing you to work with team members to help them make changes in their interactions, approaches, and performance with direct feedback. There are two modalities that are ideal for this type of training, these are:

  • Huddles
    Combining the benefits of group participation, hands-on activities, and role play along with direct coaching, Huddles are an excellent training method to help shape and improve behaviors.
  • Video Simulations
    Offering the same advantages of a Huddle, Video Simulations allow geographically dispersed teams the opportunity to observe team member behavior and coach them to be more effective in their approach.

Need Help?

We recognize there are a lot of options out there, but choosing a training method doesn’t need to be a chore. We can help you analyze and understand both your goals and content to select the best option for your needs. Reach out to schedule some time with our Training Content Strategists to learn more.

Want to know more about choosing a training method? Download our free guide!

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Galileo Maintains Renowned Culture While Moving Training from In-Person to Online with Spoke®

Since 2002, Galileo relied on a two-day, in-person training session to prep their counselors for the coming camp season. But as their team grew to 2,000 plus members, so did the tactical challenges. After trying another industry-leading LMS, Galileo realized they needed a partner who also practiced and supported innovation to support their dynamic learning and teaching environment.


Backstory

Galileo logoGalileo Learning is a summer day-camp provider that offers children pre-K through 8th-grade confidence-building challenges and one-of-a-kind summer fun at over 70 locations in the Bay area, SoCal, and Chicagoland. Their mission: to develop innovators who envision and create a better world.

The curriculum is hands-on, iterative, and designed to reinforce the mindset, knowledge, and process needed to innovate in the modern world. In pre-K, campers may build a functional catapult or design their own space vehicle, all with simple materials. By 8th grade, they may program their own video game, design a fashion line, or build something entirely of their own invention.

“Something powerful happens at Galileo that doesn’t happen at other camps. Kids have fun, but they’re also encouraged to explore and fail without fear, which is the essence of innovation,” says Tom Bowen, Galileo’s Director of Professional Development & Training and Director of Technology.

Opportunity

Only the most talented instructors, counselors, and interns are trained to facilitate Galileo’s innovation approach. Since 2002, they had relied on an all-hands in-person training model of up to 2-days to impart new methodologies and curriculum, exchange experiences and ideas, and strengthen the vision and relationships that facilitate their mission.

Galileo Spoke News Post

The yearly meeting was enjoyed and cherished, especially by returning staff, but as Galileo grew to over 2,000 counselors, so did the tactical challenges. Aside from the time and travel costs, the lectures and break-out sessions had so many attendees that it was difficult to ensure that each trainee’s learning objectives were being met. And, while memories of conference camaraderie lingered, once camp was in session, there was no easy way to revisit key points and best practices covered in training.

“We needed a modern solution that could help us move our training from in-person to online without losing the incredible culture we’re known for. We also needed a way for counselors to access role-based content and answers to their questions on demand. We were concerned a traditional learning management system couldn’t deliver what we needed. I guess we wanted the best of both worlds: the convenience of an online community and an immersive cultural experience – a tall order, ” Tom explained.

“We needed a modern solution that could help us move our training from in-person to online without losing the incredible culture we’re known for. We were concerned a traditional learning management system couldn’t deliver what we needed.

After trying another industry-leading LMS, Galileo soon realized they needed more than “bells and whistles” to support their dynamic learning and teaching environment. They needed a partner who also practiced and supported innovation.

Partnership

Wiser and more determined than ever, Galileo connected with the Unboxed team and soon became convinced that Spoke, Unboxed’s collaborative and social learning management system, met their criteria.

Members of Unboxed’s Spoke team met with the Galileo team to identify and prioritize their goals – and to address obstacles to adoption. For example, the returning group of counselors was a little anxious about losing the connections they made at the annual conference. It was a powerful bonding experience that they were hesitant to give up for an online application.

The Unboxed and Galileo teams partnered together to work towards the solution: relevant content and connections could be developed and accessed on Spoke Community; while the more interactive and improvisational training exercises would be held in-person at each location’s discretion.

Galileo Spoke Training

And to “hook” the skeptics who were missing the action and excitement of the annual get-together, Unboxed recommended tapping into Spoke’s gamification features like Spoke coins, badges, levels, and a competitive leaderboard to spark competition and keep learners motivated.

“It was the perfect solution. And even though we bombarded the Unboxed team with new information and questions as we learned more about Spoke’s capabilities, they were always patient, professional, and as excited as we were. I soon discovered that was typical of the “white glove” service Unboxed delivered.”

“[Spoke] was the perfect solution. And even though we bombarded the Unboxed team with new information and questions as we learned more about Spoke’s capabilities, they were always patient, professional, and as excited as we were. I soon discovered that was typical of the “white glove” service Unboxed delivered.”

Solution

Galileo realized that making gamification the launching pad for Spoke was a stroke of genius. Plus, Spoke’s simple and modern user interface made it easy to navigate and explore all the content, news, eLearning, videos, classroom training, job aids, etc.—all in one place.

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But the real magic happened in the Spoke Community. For the first time, it was easy to connect with and learn from one’s peers, from SoCal to Chicagoland. Now, if a new instructor wanted her kids to build a go-cart and had no idea how to design the steering column, she could simply search or ask for help on Spoke and advice would come in from across the Galileo ecosphere.

Spoke not only facilitated the exchange of knowledge, it created friendships and strengthened the culture. Soon Spoke was no longer viewed as a “second-best” substitute for in-person training, but rather an enhancement and extension that could grow and change with the culture.

Results

For Galileo, it was always important to measure counselor acculturation and training progress, so they appreciated Spoke’s ability to provide metrics and insights into areas like course performance, social participation, and counselor engagement.

Galileo Spoke Dashboard

The benefits of Spoke were almost immediate. Everyone loved the gamification and social elements, and that provided the “gateway” to more logins, higher engagement and, eventually, more training completed.

“We were super excited when Spoke revealed a 15-20% increase in new staff engagement. And while Spoke was busiest before camp started, with staffers completing on average 54 courses each, counselors continued to log in and benefit from Spoke during camp sessions (8.6 per user on average).”

“Honestly, we couldn’t imagine working with a better partner than Unboxed. The entire team consistently has our back. We have a partnership where we have the opportunity to influence the product, and that feels really good as a customer.”

“Honestly, we couldn’t imagine working with a better partner than Unboxed. The entire team consistently has our back. We have a partnership where we have the opportunity to influence the product, and that feels really good as a customer.”

Learn more about Spoke and Galileo Learning.

 

4 Virtual Instructor Led Training Best Practices for Max Engagement

As technologies evolve and people become increasingly comfortable connecting virtually, companies are looking for ways to take their existing training content into the digital space. That’s where virtual instructor-led training (vILT) comes in. But what exactly is vILT, what are the benefits, what is its #1 challenge, and what virtual instructor led training best practices can you follow to maximize engagement?

Let’s take a look.

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VILT Benefits

The benefits to business are obvious. By moving existing training content to online or app-based platforms, your company can:

  • Connect learners globally,
  • Reduce training costs, and
  • Complement your blended learning strategy.

Plus, unlike self-paced e-courses, instructors can still interact with learners in real time, facilitating discussions and answering participant questions.

But let’s take a step back. What exactly does a vILT look like?

 

Three parts of a vILT

The three main components of a vILT are:

  1. The platform
  2. The training content
  3. The people

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The platform

Two software platforms commonly used for vILT are the Cisco Webex Training Center and Adobe Connect. Both platforms create an online space where instructors and learners can interact and offer tools to increase engagement, including: virtual whiteboards, polling, “raise hand” and chat functions, and breakout rooms for smaller discussions and activities.

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The content

Then you have your course materials which consist of the audio and visual content the instructor uses to teach the course, including: videos, text, audio clips, and images. Those materials are often contained in a PowerPoint presentation as a convenient way for instructors to organize and share information.

In addition, a facilitator’s guide outlining timing, talking points, discussion prompts, and activities can be very useful in keeping your session on track. Job aids, infographics, and other supplementary materials can be used as takeaways to reinforce learnings.

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The people

You have your learners, of course, and your instructor/facilitator who is teaching the material and/or facilitating discussions and activities.

You may also want a producer—someone who is tech savvy and has in-depth knowledge of the platform you’re using to launch tools, move participants into breakout rooms and help monitor the time.

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So, what is the biggest challenge with vILTs?

The big challenge

The greatest challenge with vILTs is also the greatest challenge with ILTs—keeping learners engaged. But with vILTs it is especially easy for participants to hide in the back of the virtual classroom where no one can see or hear them. Plus, instructors must compete with all the distractions at learners’ fingertips like email, texting, and Internet browsing.

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Which leads us to…

Virtual Instructor Led Training Best Practices

Follow these 4 virtual instructor led training best practices to keep learners focused and engaged.

  1. Make your training part of a larger blended learning journey. One of the advantages of the vILT format is that learners can complete self-paced training and review materials before and after the live session. You don’t need to cram everything into marathon in-person sessions. Micro-learning has been proven to be 50% more engaging and makes the transfer of learning 17% more efficient. Break your content into smaller bite-sized pieces and focus your vILT on interactive discussions and activities
  2. Develop a set of rules and expectations up front. This may include asking participants to close email and browsers and refrain from using their phones. Let them know ahead of time how they are expected to communicate, for example chatting in questions or using the “raise hand” function.
  3. Make sure you utilize platform tools to their greatest advantage. For example, polls can be used as a quick and easy way to keep learners engaged while gathering valuable feedback. Breakout rooms are extremely useful with large groups to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. But don’t make the mistake of using tools just because they’re there. Make sure all aspects of your training are thoughtful and intentional. That’s because.
  4. No technology can replace an enthusiastic, engaging instructor who cares. Think back to school. What were your favorite classes? Most likely they were taught by teachers who kept the content entertaining and expressed a genuine interest in their students. The same goes for virtual classes. The best instructors use storytelling and compelling audio-visual content and, when possible, establish one-on-one relationships with their learners. This can be challenging with large groups, but whether it’s a quick phone call, email, or post on an intranet message board—try to find the time to connect with participants.

“vILTs really benefit from instructors and L&D departments who think outside the box and find ways to connect with participants outside of the live session.”

 

A vILT can be a great, cost-effective addition to your L&D department’s offerings. Participants love the convenience and business loves its low impact to the bottom line. And by following these vILT best practices, you can overcome its greatest challenge—learner engagement—to see positive, measurable results with your training.

To learn more about how to think strategically in this digital space and develop custom, design-forward, and engaging content, take a look at our custom vILT solutions and give us a shout! We’re happy to walk you through our process.