Before starting to develop Snackson, the team behind had more than 10,000 hours of online training accumulated, ranging from complete masters to eLearning courses a few hours long.
The Microlearning Paradox: When Less Is More
Each project that we have carried out has been different. When determining their objective, we took into consideration a variety of factors: goals, type of content, target audience (previous education, level, etc.), whether there is a virtual classroom or not, blended online format classes, active or passive mentoring, format (pdf, SCORM, development inside the classroom), type of interaction (basic, medium, advanced, etc.) and so on.
One of the key points of online training projects is specifying the duration (time that the student has to spend). If a master requires from 1,500 hours of commitment, a significant percentage of those are usually classroom activities (debates, mentoring, coursework, collaborating with other students, etc.), while another is spent reading, doing online reading, surveys, etc. In a 10-hour course, it’s normal to develop one or more SCORM modules that can be viewed in the classroom and set aside one or two hours for classroom activities.
Hours vs Pages vs Real Time
If we think about the development of a basic course in SCORM (basic interaction, without complex navigation dynamics or gamification techniques), it’s normal to ask ourselves a preliminary question: how many pages do we have to write to develop one hour of online training?
For quite some time, 10/15 authorship pages were considered to provide 1 hour of online training. In other words, the student has to spend between 4 and 6 minutes to assimilate one page of text.
Some companies went a little further and established 20 authorship pages per hour of training (we would spend 3 minutes on one page of training). On average, for a 10-hour course, 2 hours of which are classroom hours, it would take 8×15=120 authorship pages.
From 10 Hours of Training to 3 Hours. A 70% Decrease
The truth is that in most cases there is a distortion between the ratios defined at a theoretical level and the “real learning time”. When real reading tests were conducted, an average student could finish a 10-hour course in little more than 3 or 4 hours.
This difference is due to several factors:
- Each student has a different reading speed than what is expected.
- The student already knows the content and reads it superficially.
- The student is obliged to do the course but isn’t interested in the content (so they do it very quickly).
- These factors were not taken into account when calculating the required content.
To solve the time difference between expectation and reality, we have 3 strategies:
- Increasing content production and developing more complex activities that forces the user to devote more time in real training.
- Decreasing the estimated time to convey accurate information from the time actually spent by the user.
- Using techniques to increase the time commitment: playback or time lock, object animations, interacting with contents that don’t provide any real value to the content, additional information, further reading, etc.
The usual market strategy has been to “artificially” increase the attention span, forcing the user to spend more time than necessary in training, increasing frustration and the feeling of wasted time.
Our Proposal: When Less Is More
When we designed Snackson, we wanted to rely on 3 elements: microlearning, designed for mobile phones and with gamification dynamics. But we also wanted to make a training model based in conveying straightforward and specific content, without surface elements and that provided value to the user.
A Snackson course has between 40 and 120 content screens, equivalent to a real training time of between 30 minutes and 2 hours of training/real time commitment.
What is really significant is that we have carried out several projects consisting of converting conventional SCORM content to the Snackson format. With our method and without losing key information, dedicating 6 hours to a course implies less than 2 hours of real time.
Training Better With Less Time
Thanks to microlearning, we get to decrease the time we dedicate to improve productivity, without losing quality. The student makes better use of their time and the customer can train more effectively.
This prevents us from “selling” long courses, as it doesn’t make any sense with our format and because data, experience and common sense show us that if we provide the user with straightforward content and without extraneous content, they make better use of their time and learn more.
We are now working on convincing the human resources and talent management departments to join the paradigm shift.
Do you want to train more in less time?
Disclaimer: the time/effectiveness comparison is based on a particular course typology (simple interaction, no complex navigation, etc.). There are many types of online courses that are very efficient in the real time/theoretical time ratio and that also allow the user to enjoy an excellent user experience. But they are still a minority.
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