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'Learning Bursts': A Different Way to Deliver Training

 -  3/23/12

With employees being too busy for long training sessions, a series of short lessons can provide learning in bite-sized bits.

In the midst of an economic recovery, companies have trimmed labor forces while preserving or expanding the level of service and product offerings. This has placed stress on an already task-saturated workforce which simply cannot afford time away from the job for training. Couple that with the new skills and capabilities needed to meet emerging market demands, along with reduced training budgets, and the need for a different and more cost-effective model to deliver training has risen.

Enter the “learning burst” model.

A learning burst is a combination of an eight- to 10-minute audio cast similar to a talk show, which can be played on any compatible player or device. It also includes a document, or “workbook,” of supporting material, with three to five pages per chapter or topic of simulations and case studies to augment the learning burst, as well as a short quiz and a prompting exercise to get participants to think about how they would apply what they have learned. Each burst is a self-contained discussion of a particular topic or subject.

A series of bursts make up a course, with usually 10 to 15 bursts per course. Think of each learning burst as a mini-course within itself. And when you combine the bursts, they make up the equivalent of one to two days of training.

Each learning burst has a target length of 20 minutes. The student listens to the audio segment of eight to 10 minutes. This is not a podcast but is based on the late-night TV show format such as the “Tonight Show,” a two-person dialogue in which the host interacts with the student to discuss one topic or concept. The audio segments use the “edutainment” approach: they combine education and entertainment into the learning.

Next, the student reads the workbook, which provides further content that supplements the audio segment. The workbook is written in the key learning point method where the student reads a topic — one to three paragraphs maximum — and then stops reading and interacts with the content by doing an exercise.

Learning burst chapters are typically made up of five to eight key learning points. Tables, charts, graphs and pictures are used to supplement what is being read and was heard in the audio. A three-question quiz is provided to reinforce the learning, and the learning burst ends with students completing an action plan on how they will apply what they have just learned.

Article Keywords:   blended learning   e-Learning   formal learning   learning  


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