The 4th R in the 7Rs of Safety Training Retention is Reduction.
Reduction has other names and forms – chunking, micro-learning, learning bursts, etc. Reduction means taking your training content and breaking it down into more digestible pieces. Think about it. If you spend two weeks putting together the content for a training class, how can trainees be expected to remember it after a two hour – even 5 hour – class?
Chunking has been a technique to help people remember things for a long time. Phone numbers used to be 7 digits because that was a good sized “chunk” for your memory. A ten digit phone number would have been much harder to remember. Micro-learning has gained in popularity in recent years for a variety of reasons. It is pretty well accepted that attention spans have gotten shorter for a variety of reasons so if someone has the choice to focus and pay attention to training material for 10 or 15 minutes instead of an hour, they will choose the shorter time span. Training provided in small bursts can be a great way to get active participation, and a great way not to overload the trainee with too much information. Technology can really help to deliver smaller chunks of training but not everyone has access to all of the many options that are available. Micro-learning can still be done “old school” without all the bells and whistles. Simple emails with training content broken down into chunks, with links to online evaluations, can be very effective.
Gamification is also increasing in popularity and many of the gamification programs rely on breaking down content into smaller pieces. In games and other online platforms where you can earn badges, each badge generally represents a particular piece of knowledge. (I took a stab at creating a Safety Trainer’s Badge Book a few years ago to help guide self-improvement efforts of any safety trainer looking to do so, including myself. The Safety Trainer’s Badge Book is available as a free download on the SafetyFUNdamentals Bookstore). If you are interested in creating your own badge program, let me know and I can point you in the right direction.
Do you use games or micro-learning in your work place?