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17 April 2018

5 learning principles every learning development professional should know

Jonny McAlister

Jonny McAlister

Head of Sales & Marketing

To get the best levels of engagement from their learners, learning development professionals ought to keep these five simple things at the forefront of their minds.

When it comes to learning it’s not enough to just throw together content, whether it be text, videos or assessments, and hope that learners will take it in and remember it in their everyday lives.

With this in mind we have put together five basic learning principles, course creators and learning development professionals should be aware of:


1. Boredom kills learning

All information that comes into the grain is filtered through the amygdala. When a learner becomes bored or disengaged, the amygdala becomes hyperactive and it sends all of the information it receives to the lower 80% of the brain. This is known as the involuntary brain. The point I am trying to make is that if the learner reaches a state of boredom then scientifically it is impossible for them to learn and remember content.

Consider adding short snippets of content and follow them up with short assessments. This will keep learners brains active.


2. Press repeat

Most people have heard the phrase, ‘practice makes perfect’ but this couldn’t be more true when it comes to learning. As an example, primary school children will struggle to write on their first day back at school after a long break, even if they have spent the previous year writing every day. The point I am trying to make is that if learners are not using knowledge or skills gained through e-learning then they will begin to forget it. Again, with this in mind you might want to consider having checkpoints where you assess a learner’s information retention or if you are using blended learning you may want to implement a practical classroom based test on content consumed online.


3. Don’t overload learners

The term ‘cognitive overload’ was coined in 1998 and it couldn’t be more relevant in 2017. People are consuming more information now than they ever have and this is down to readily available access to the internet.

When putting together course content it is important to remind yourself that we all have a finite amount of working memory at our disposal to process and understand information. When a learner is presented with information it must be delivered in bite-sized chunks which he or she can reasonably process.

As an example, if you are using a LMS as part of your onboarding process, you may not want to bombard new starts with too much information in their first week. They are likely to have cognitive overload from trying to navigate their way around their new workplace.


4. Give learners a reason

If a learner can’t make the connection between learning consent and application in their everyday life, they won’t have a reason and therefore the motivation to understand the topic presented to them.

Learning development professionals must guide course content, it’s their role to identify the motive behind each part of course content. In the workplace it’s important to keep course content up to date, if for instance if health and safety requirements have been updated it’s important to update your course to reflect this.


5. Be clear, consistent and logical

The final point is pretty simple, it is important to present information in a logical and clear way at the start of any training module. You must also make learners aware of their progress and their goals at regular intervals. After all, you wouldn’t send someone on a journey without a map?!


More guidance for learning development professionals

Although simple, these five learning and development principles will give you solid foundations to build your e-learning course content. If you would like to talk to one of our e-learning experts to discuss them in more detail, please fill out your details below and we’ll be in touch.



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