Jump Start Training: The Key to Knowledge Retention?
Training, safety, compliance, OSHA, regulatory, procedures, mandatory, required, policy… bored yet? The minute I start to hear these words my brain wants to shut off. As an instructional designer who predominantly works in the safety compliance training world, that’s not a good emotional state.
Each time I write and develop a course, I’m faced with the challenge of taking dry facts and instructions, and making those facts come to life.
Recently while updating a CPR course to meet a couple regulatory updates, I found myself unsure whether to use the term “hands-on” or “hands-only” CPR. I searched through the training materials I had access to and found both terms used interchangeably. To avoid confusing the learner, I had to choose one term and be consistent. During my web searches for “hands-on” and “hands-only” CPR, I found a site that referenced the American Heart Association and thought that it looked promising. It wouldn’t be my only resource but it was a start.
Immediately the American Heart Association logo begins to load and I’m already feeling better about the choice I made. Even brief spurts of research like this are time consuming, and I was on a deadline. Very quickly, however, I saw something completely unexpected take over my screen.
What did these topless and scantily clad bodies have anything to do with a topic as serious as Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation? We’re supposed to be teaching people to save lives. Where was my new mnemonic device to remember the proper CPR steps? Where were the dry step-by-step instructions?
Intrigued, I chose a body and started the training on how to save this nice gentleman’s life. A woman’s sensual sounding voice began giving me instructions and I used my mouse essentially to play a game. I had to find the center of my victim’s chest and administer compressions—all while receiving encouraging feedback and even some playful scolding if I wasn’t performing the right actions.
Many training managers would be against poking fun at serious life or death training topics, and who would blame them? If you joke about something serious, someone might misinterpret your behavior.
Shock the learner…
Just like the CPR course I was developing, training courses often need to be revived, essentially shocking the learner, or at the very least saving the learner from absolute boredom.
Sometimes it requires taking a leap and doing the complete opposite of what the learner expects (like me when I clicked on a link during a CPR fact-finding mission only to be shocked by what the American Heart Association was using to train the masses). In fact, I’d say the more often your employee’s attention is jump started, the better they’ll retain information.
Jump start training isn’t a new concept, just an accurately descriptive term for the experience learners have when they are continually exposed to interesting components in a training course; jump starting their mind. Thus, this idea of jump start training is about the learner’s attention constantly being jump started through images, games, videos and interactive elements.
Give jump start training a try!
The next course you’re tasked with developing, get creative and have fun with it! Jot down all of the ideas, videos, articles, music—whatever—you think of that could relate to the course topic you’re developing. After you’ve had your creative session, give each subject you wrote down a shock value and appropriateness value. This will help you differentiate content which could realistically be incorporated into the course, and content which isn’t fit for the audience. From there, discuss with the customer , and other colleagues working on the course, if the creative (shocking) information would be applicable in the course.
Regardless of how boring or serious the topic may be, there are creative ways to beef up content and strengthen knowledge retention through jump starting the learner’s attention—over and over.
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