By Toby Hewitt, Head of e-Learning

To help e-learning initiatives achieve a demonstrable ROI we need to address the most basic of learning principles – spaced learning.

This principle says we need to have multiple learning opportunities to activate desired behaviours.

The face-to-face training session, the webinar, the e-learning module; all are doomed to fail without support in the form of frequent reinforcement. It’s like reciting the alphabet to a child for the first time and then expecting them to spell. Or giving me 30 slides of compliance training and hoping nobody gets sued.

To trigger memory and activate behaviour, we need to remind, reinforce and assess more frequently without intruding heavily into our learner’s time.

Online media is the perfect platform to support spaced learning. For example, we can use the widespread adoption of smart-phones and other mobile devices to deliver spaced learning in ways that simply weren’t possible in the past.

Here is one possible model:


The e-learning modules: Prepare our learners for their job by providing realistic activities that allow them to practice the desired behaviours and experience the consequences of the important decisions that they might have to make in the job. There’s a quick introduction to the organisation/job by the front-line supervisor. We then support this with on-the-job learning and a series of spaced, mobile assessments.

Ideally, you would use push notifications to inform the audience that new content is available. This could be as simple as an email with embedded link to your LMS to a custom-built app. We want to allow users to complete the mobile assessments at their own pace, however we want to prompt them to engage with new assessments as they become available.

The assessments focus on testing learner’s understanding of the job. They could be used to deliver compliance refreshers, questions about brand values or even pop-quizzes on customer service scenarios. We build comprehension and competency through repeated exposure to examples of performance. In our model, all of this serves to support the formal buddy system.

While only a hypothetical framework I offer to you, the real trick to it all is designing great assessment questions. And that’s a whole other topic.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this example of a spaced learning strategy!


Courseware/Instructional Design