A key goal of learning is to change behaviours. To change the behaviour of how we think, respond and perform, to achieve an outcome. But the desired change in behaviours is not going to happen immediately. It is not going to happen as a result of a “one and done” learning event. It needs to happen over time as knowledge is acquired, contextualized and applied. Time is required to practice skills, to move from novice to master. It needs to happen as a series of learning events, as part of an ongoing learning campaign.
The concept of a learning campaign is borrowed from a highly successful model of behavioural change – the marketing campaign. Too often learning designers are too absorbed in the learning and development industries methods, models and trends. They fail to look beyond their field for inspiration or examples where behaviour change is implemented successfully. The marketing campaign has a long history of success in behaviour change, and the concepts can be easily compared to a learning campaign.
The purpose of the marketing campaign is to provide awareness of a product or service, and ultimately change the consumer’s buying behaviour so they purchase the product or service. The learning campaign has a similar goal, to engage learners and encourage them to change behaviours.
The marketing and learning campaigns also share other similar features.
Spaced over time
The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve hypothesises that forty percent of new information is forgotten within an hour, and more as time goes on. Marketing campaigns overcome this by spacing the message over time. A learning campaign does the same, with the content distributed over a period of time. The spacing of this content, and corresponding skills practice, allows for greater retention of knowledge and skills.
Marketers spend a large amount of time trying to understand the consumer and determine targeted marketing campaigns. The delivery medium and message is focused on the end user, the consumer. Learning campaigns move away from the traditional L&D method of deciding the delivery medium before user considerations. Learning campaigns consider the users and user experience first and deliver content in the medium and style that best suits the learner.
Points of contact
A marketing campaign uses different types of marketing activities, or points of contact, to engage with the consumer. Traditionally this would include print, radio and television media; with online channels being used more recently. Similarly, the learning campaign uses different points of learning to engage the learners. This may include face to face, elearning, webinars, video, infographics, print documents, job aids etc.
Marketing campaigns are designed to engage the consumer. They are generally creative and contain quality visuals. Learning campaigns are the same. They are designed to hook the learner, to have them see the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). To engage the learners early and secure their buy in so they continue to engage in the campaign.
Marketing campaigns are driven by results. Data is used extensively to evaluate the impact of the marketing campaign, to determine where the campaign is having the greatest success and adapting where necessary. Learning campaigns are also data driven, using technology such as xAPI to capture data about learner interactions and experiences. Evaluation of the learning data allows for responsive changes to be made as required.
Marketing campaigns use short bite sized advertisements. Radio and TV advertisements are extremely short in duration, with most advertisements being 60 seconds or less. Learning campaigns also utilise short bite sized pieces of content, moving away from the onerous 30-60 minute eLearning courses or full day face to face workshops. The bite sized pieces avoid cognitive overload and further increase knowledge retention. The bite sized nature also makes the development of the learning campaign assets more agile and easily updated.
Learning campaigns provide a modern and quality way to deliver learning experiences, that will ultimately result in better learning, better outcomes and better returns.