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Variety is the
Secret Spice
Stew

Crafted by Ann McDonald

Serving up a learning “dish” that pleases everyone’s palate isn’t always an easy task. By providing a variety of options you’re sure to satisfy even your pickiest learning consumers.

INGREDIENTS

1 main topic (make it specific, you don’t want to overfill your audience)

1 baseline knowledge assessment

2-3 assorted learning assets of choice such as infographics, video clips, podcast, eLearning, etc. (either homemade or off the shelf will work)

Steps

1

Start by taking a close look at your main topic and narrow it down so you are not stuffing your audience with too much information. Use both qualitative and quantitative input to answer the questions of:

“What problems are we trying to solve?”

“What knowledge gaps are we trying to fill?”

It’s best to have the end result in mind going into your recipe so you know what success looks like, and to ensure your overall goal aligns to your company’s overarching goals.

2

Prior to distributing or conducting any actual part of your learning module, conduct a quick baseline knowledge assessment or survey to get a snapshot of your audience’s current level of knowledge. Never assume that your audience has deep knowledge of the subject matter, regardless of their tenure. A baseline assessment will help you identify current proficiency levels, see common trends in gaps, and, as an added benefit, will help to stimulate appetites with a need to learn about the subject.

This is a very important step that is often overlooked and, if omitted from the recipe, can cause your outcome to be bland or worse yet, get passed over altogether.

3

With the ongoing shortening of attention spans and growth in diversity of types of learners, it is beneficial to use a variety of methods to convey the same information. Don’t worry about using the same “flavoring” (information) over and over again. By serving up that same ingredient in a variety of ways, you are more likely to find a method that will get the information to stick with all of your learners. 

For example, even most people who don’t like tomatoes still like pizza that has tomato sauce on it! And don’t feel like you need to create all of your ingredients from scratch. Curate a collection of video clips, blogs or podcasts and add them to in-house efforts to create a rich and delicious learning-module stew!

4

Once you have all of your content ingredients in place and your learner has had the chance to sample what you have served up, it is important that they are given the opportunity to apply that information in relevant situations. Provide your learner with specific post learning activities such as subsequent knowledge assessments to check for understanding, a specific task or activity to complete involving applying the new information, or an assignment to provide updates or examples of results achieved by applying the new skill or information. Be sure to continuously reinforce the information by threading it throughout future learning opportunities and be sure to recognize and reward individuals you see using and applying key takeaways. 

Finally, one of the most important steps you can take to ensure a successful recipe is to make it easy for your end user to go back and revisit your content when they have the need to snack on some “leftovers.” By curating a blend of assets into modules and keeping them contained in an easy to access location, such as an intranet or learning platform, you’ll be setting your audience up to become self-sufficient learning consumers. 

About Ann

Ann has over 20 years of experience as a Talent Development leader with a history of consistently improving sales performance and business results through innovative learning and development methods and strategic talent management initiatives. She has a proven track record in providing talent management and learning and development solutions, and in selecting, implementing and leveraging technology to maximize employee engagement and increase learning retention in order to optimize results in sales driven organizations.

At Mimeo, Ann is responsible for leading the strategic direction of all training and development programs and his currently in the process of putting the right tools and systems in place to enhance learning opportunities and improve training impact for all levels of employees from new hires through the executive level.

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