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Sticky Learning: To Stick or not to Stick – Part 2 of 3

As instructors, we want to provide meaningful content to adult learners. In their work environments, the main focus is the accomplishment. Are they able to successfully complete a project? Do they have a better ability to perform a task, or better knowledge to understand a process?  How can we help adult learners better retain information? The core of sticky learning attempts to answer this question.

Simply put, sticky learning is the ability to retain and apply information after the training course has ended.

The Introduction to Microsoft Outlook course is a part of SpiralHealth’s Revitalization Program. This course is designed to introduce our seasoned employees who have returned to the workforce to new communication tools. Adult learners receive an overview of the use of email for communication, storage, file attachments, and meeting invites. They expand their knowledge of email with instant messaging and video chatting through Skype. The e-learning program is enhanced by video tutorials, practice sessions, quizzes, and special projects. What happens once the adult learners complete the program? How do they retain and use the information they’ve learned?

As a part of the training program, adult learners are presented with various opportunities to participate in a simulated experience with the character Johnny Rehire. Johnny is a fictional character, who is also a member of the SpiralHealth Revitalization Program. He shares the same concerns and excitement surrounding this new program as the actual students. The more the students learn about Johnny through animated videos, simulated training, and quizzes that test their knowledge and skills, the more the adult learners are being provided with meaningful examples of tasks that they will and can perform in their real work environments.

Because Johnny’s story is relatable to their own lives, the adult learners engagement in the training program is increased. The simulated program runs through the entire course. The final task of the Johnny Rehire journey takes place a month after the adult learners have completed the course. This gives the adult learners an additional opportunity to refresh their comprehension of what they’ve previously learned. Our instructional designers review the results of their final assessment with the adult learners and their managers, which provides the ability to measure and share the results of their training.

Although the simulated program is based on a funny animated character, the ability to reinforce what the adult learners have learned is a very serious matter. It provides an invaluable method to help them apply this information in their work environments.

Can game shows, like Jeopardy offer the same impact? Read our final blog in this series to learn how we applied the Jeopardy game as a technique for learner retention in one of our other courses on this site.

Shonia Brown is an innovative and accomplished instructional designer with 14 years of experience designing and developing interactive training content that increases workplace proficiency, promotes employee retention, and enhances customer software product knowledge.

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