Contextual microlearning makes IT training concrete

If you are already running training programs for your company’s IT systems, would you really want to invest in any additional training systems?

After all, training staff to use technology takes them away from their desks, costs money in terms of the trainer’s fee and means people are not being productive for the business while in the classroom. So, investing in a digital contextual microlearning system may seem like an unjustifiable business cost.

But choosing to only use basic training could be a false economy. While training programs certainly help, contextual help systems ensure true digital adoption.

Here is why:

  • Training programs transfer knowledge to end-users. They give them an introduction to an IT system, show them some of the key things it can do, and help them understand certain processes.
  • On the other hand, contextual help systems guide end-users through individual steps when completing very specific tasks. They offer on-demand, in-time, and in-context tutorials to end-users (and are not just restricted to a classroom setting) while being highly relevant to that individual and their work.

Let’s look at how contextual microlearning extends training and makes it concrete.

Training programs are not effective long-term

Many organizations have, for decades, used the standard, traditional training approach to IT learning. However, training programs are simply not effective  when it comes to sustainable business IT adoption. Here is why:

  • The forgetting curve: Most people forget what they learn in classrooms within hours of the lesson ending. All that time spent learning is wasted, not to mention the money and equipment.
  • Requires refreshing memories: If you know you learned something in a tutorial 6 months ago, but cannot remember how to do it, you must spend a lot of time hunting through your notes, training folders or searching online to refresh your memory. That puts you out of the flow of work.
  • Expensive: The cost of training programs for a platform like SharePoint or Office 365 is usually considerable, making the strategy prohibitive and unsustainable, especially at smaller organizations with less training budget.
  • New starters miss training: You might have offered one-time training to all staff when the new IT system was first introduced. But anyone who joins your organization at a later date will not have received the same information.

Of course, some IT training is worthwhile and can give people a handy overview of what their new business platform is and how they can use it. But this should be complemented and enhanced with more contextual learning that is continually available for years after the initial tech roll out.

Why contextual help systems are indispensable

With a contextual help system, you do not need prior knowledge of the platform to be able to use it.

For example, say you wanted to upload a document to a platform like SharePoint but couldn’t remember what was said during training. A contextual microlearning system would provide guidance from your first click, with walk-thru bubbles or a screen-capture video displaying information that takes you from one step to the next.

This kind of guidance means you can concretize what you learned in the training session when SharePoint was first introduced.

Contextual help systems provide many other benefits too:

  • End-users get guidance while being productive
  • Employees receive support at the moment of need
  • Your teams can put their new knowledge to use immediately
  • Learning is highly relevant to each employee and the tasks they work on
  • Information is updated over time (which is crucial on evolving cloud platforms)

How do contextual help systems work?

So, what does a contextual help system look like>

Whenever you are working within an IT system, a relevant and applicable tutorial appears within the interface. If you struggle with how to do a certain task, it only takes two clicks to open up a new help item. Crucially, the information is relevant to the page you are on:

  • If you are on a list, you get help items about lists
  • If you are on a library, you get help items about libraries
  • If you are on a calendar, you get help items about calendars

Extend training and make it concrete

The purpose of any training program is to ensure people know how to use a platform, adopt it and can therefore be more productive at work. However, a simple training session alone is not enough to achieve this goal. Learning needs to be made concrete, it needs to become a part of the user’s everyday activities and always be available.

And this is why contextual microlearning is essential. It does not need to replace your traditional training, but it does mean you can reduce the amount of time spent in formal classrooms, and increase the time people really spend learning by doing.

To find out more about contextual microlearning, read our blog.

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