This past March, at the Learning Solutions Conference, I was exposed to work of the amazing learning duo: Conrad Gottfredson and Bob Mosher. Bob shared the following diagram at the conference that does a great job of explaining the learning continuum. I thought that I’d share it with you, along with my interpretation of each of its three phases, so you could also benefit from this holistic view of learning.
Continuous Learning Addresses the Entire Learning Continuum
Rather than focusing only on event-based learning solutions, Gottfredson and Mosher argue that it is equally important to put a continuous learning infrastructure in place to support learners in their journey to succeed on-the-job.
They believe continuous learning can be viewed as a three-phase model, which supports employees from the point of new knowledge delivery, through to competence, improved job performance, and ultimately business results.
Phase 1: Train
This phase is about helping employees to learn in a formal setting. But, rather than delivering training as a one-time event, we advocate daily bite-sized training techniques to ensure that employees aren’t overwhelmed with knowledge, but learn at a pace where they’re able to retain more of what they learn. New techniques, such as gamification, can also be implemented to enhance employee engagement in training, and ultimately their ability and willingness to learn. And eLearning systems that provide high levels of personalization ensure that employees are learning exactly what they need, the way they like to learn, which also leads to improved engagement and learning success.
Phase 2: Transfer
When training is delivered as a one-time event, it immediately becomes susceptible to knowledge loss. For successful transfer of knowledge, we know that several techniques help to improve on-the-job competency. For example, when repeated retrieval–or testing–is regularly injected into learning, people retain more knowledge for longer periods of time. By assessing employee confidence levels when they are asked to recall information, this prompts employees to consider how confident they are that their knowledge is correct. And this active reflection more fully embeds knowledge and helps elevate confidence, which is important when employees are required to act on their knowledge in a real situation.
Phase 3: Sustain
In the sustain phase, employees need to maintain their knowledge and skills, with the ability to unlearn and relearn information as change occurs in the organization—so they can continue to perform their jobs effectively. Spacing is a technique that repeatedly presents a topic with specific time gaps between repetitions, which helps embed the knowledge for the long term and keeps knowledge top of mind where it can be accessed as needed. When processes change and employees do not remember all the details, performance support applications allow employees to look up information in real time, at “the moment of need”. This helps employees perform their job functions correctly and remain competent in an ever-changing environment. [Note: We’ll be chatting more about performance support in future blog posts].
New Training Techniques Work in Harmony
These training techniques work together in a continuous learning model to deliver knowledge in the most impactful way, support employees as they move to subject mastery, and help employees sustain their knowledge for the long term, where they can apply it again and again on the job. By viewing learning more holistically, organizations can help foster the right knowledge and behaviors throughout the employee journey, improving ongoing employee success and, ultimately, generating improved results for the organization as a whole.
Written by John Astorino