Learning at the Speed of Thought: How Corporate Training Has Evolved in the Age of Google

204 million email messages per minute and 4 million Google searches: that’s just a slice of the content we’re collectively creating, sharing, and searching for every minute. But is more always better?

Many organizations now have petabytes of data (as in, the contents of the Library of Congress, multiplied by four) at their disposal. That’s impressive for sure, but in order to do their jobs properly, your employees only need a fraction of that information at any given time. The problem is, it’s not always the same fraction–yet you don’t want to overwhelm your team with a data overload so massive that they won’t be able to process or retain the information that they actually might need.

So here’s the solution: Give them all-you-can-eat access to your business information–but rather than jam it down their throats, allow them to search through the entire knowledge bank to find the information they want, right when they want it. Here’s why “just-in-time” learning makes sense.

It saves time (and boosts productivity).

The information your employee is looking for is somewhere in that jumbo corporate training binder. But was it in Chapter 4 or Chapter 7? Finding what you’re looking for in a vast sea of content can require a lot of splashing around. Your staff’s time is valuable, and the faster they can access the information they need to do their jobs, the more effectively they’ll be able to use that time in turn. By moving your organization’s entire content base to a mobile, cloud-based solution that enables you to search by keyword to find relevant data, you’ll make finding corporate information as simple as a Google search.

It helps your staff learn information that they’ll actually retain.

Universities all over the world are moving to incorporate experiential learning models into their corporate training because it’s becoming ever more apparent that rote memorization has a pitiful outcome when it comes to genuine knowledge retention. As far back as 1895, academic researcher Hermann Ebbinghaus identified the “forgetting curve,” which illustrated that 42 percent of memorized facts were lost in a mere 20 minutes; within a month, only 21 percent of the knowledge had been retained. In contrast, when engaged in “active learning” (doing a simulation or the real thing), Edgar Dale’s “Learning Pyramid” research found that students retained 90% of information they learned. In this model, the action itself–whether it’s taking a customer service call or making a mocha latte–is the source of learning, and your training guide represents a reference source to draw on as needed for “just in time” training.

It prevents your team from adopting (and passing along) outdated and useless information.

Organizations have a lot of information at play at any given time. When you use printed corporate training binders and PDFs to share information with relevant departments, some of the data is likely to be inaccurate nearly as soon as the resources are released–but with no clear way to communicate changes to your staff. That means that even if your team has spent days digesting the data in a training binder, the information that they’re working from (and sharing with fellow staff or customers) may not be up to date on your organization’s best practices. Instead of encouraging your team to read a mammoth training manual, enable them to access cloud-based company information that’s collaboratively updated in real time. This will ensure that they have the most up-to-date information to work with at all times–no more waiting for a new release of the corporate training manual when they can simply log onto their smartphones to see the latest changes.

With ready access to the right content, you’ll gain access to key information more easily, retain more knowledge, and prevent miscommunications and mistakes. Moving to a “just in time” content learning model focused on a cloud-based mobile platform will enable your team to easily access and digest important information exactly when and where they need it.

Learning at the speed of thought means adopting to a new way of working, where employees can be trusted to gain skills through action while using a powerful reference guide to help them adapt to any new situation. Trust that they can find their own way, and give them the tools to do it.