Learning Campaigns: Why One-Off Training Just Doesn't Cut It Anymore


Let me ask a question. How much do you remember from that Microeconomics class you took in college? (Or Organic Chemistry, Differential Equations or Intro to Philosophy?) I’m going to assume not much, unless you’re involved with it on a regular basis for work or a hobby.

There are many reasons why you don’t remember much of what you learned. Maybe it was a long time ago, or the class wasn’t taught well. Maybe the subject matter was painfully boring and you dumped it out of your head as soon as the class was over. (I’m talking to you, Professor Smith...) More likely, the subject matter isn’t something you’re immersed in regularly, so your memory of it has degraded over time.

The same idea applies to material presented through any elearning initiative. If content is boring, unengaging, irrelevant and is only delivered once, you can’t really expect your audience to remember it and you certainly can’t expect it to change any behaviors. Even if the material is interesting and highly relevant, retention rates are still quite low if the eLearning content is presented in a one-and-done fashion. But why is that? Let’s take a look.

An eLearning Course is Just the First Step

When we talk about one-off training, we’re not only referring to in-person, classroom training, but any scenario where employees are given material to learn. This could be in a classroom, via an online self-paced module, a training video or even a written job-aid or book. The point is, these methods alone are not effective in fully training employees or altering employee behavior. Steve Jacobs, coauthor of The Behavior Breakthrough, suggests that “training alone isn’t enough because it is merely an antecedent to behavior. Research has shown that antecedents can help trigger a behavior, but that the consequences that follow from a behavior are by far most pivotal in determining whether the behavior sticks in a meaningful way.”

Five Reasons Why One-Offs Don’t Cut It

  1. There isn’t enough time to apply what was learned. When trainees are left to apply new information on their own, it usually doesn’t happen. And you know that phrase “practice makes perfect”? It’s true - it’s going to take several practice runs before it starts to stick. 
  2. Employees are more distracted than ever. Not only does modern technology give them constant access to information, but it makes them constantly accessible to others. It can be hard to carve out adequate time for total focus and concentration.
  3. One-off training is often stuffed with too much information. When planning a learning session, the temptation looms to include as much information as possible. The problem here is that learners can only process so much new information at one time, and if there’s too much content, the important takeaways will be diluted.
  4. One-off training doesn’t allow for ongoing coaching. If you really want to change behavior, subject matter needs to be reiterated several times; people need to hear it, read it, see it, talk about it with others and then do it themselves. 
  5. One-off training isn’t always accommodating of employees’ busy schedules. When people are forced to drop everything and sit in a training session, they’re probably a little grumpy. Letting employees work learning into their existing schedules improves participation as well as retention rates.

Go Beyond One-Off Training with Learning Campaigns

Learning campaigns are the best way to overcome the challenges presented by single, one-off training sessions and achieve your objectives. We’ve deployed learning campaign methodologies with many clients and find this approach delivers results again and again.

Learning campaigns power the necessary follow-up and coaching to make information stick, with knowledge delivered in pieces and made available at the right moments, accessible 24/7 from any device or location. It allows you to reiterate critical information, hold your trainees accountable for demonstrating what they’ve learned and track long-term performance.


If you're interested, check out ExpandShare's eLearning Services to see how your program can be an epic success.

Will Holland