Trainee Doctors in class

What is high-impact learning?

A refreshed look at learning

4 minute read
Trainee Doctors in class

Gone are the days of chalk and talk teaching. Training methods such as high-impact learning are proven to increase student retention and engagement.

According to AIM WA Head of Product Design Graeme Robb FAIM, adult students need to know the relevancy of the information within a training program in order for the learning to be engaging.

“Adults want the knowledge gained to be able to be applied immediately or in the near future,” he said.

“Being able to control how and when they learn means adults are more likely to be fully engaged with the content.”

Mr Robb said high-impact learning happened when participants were highly engaged in the process of learning.

“Since COVID-19, we’ve seen a big change in terms of engagement,” he said.

“People don’t want to sit and be talked to, they want to be engaged, particularly in the virtual world.”

According to a global study by Capgemini, employees expect more from their learning departments – desiring more personalised and flexible learning opportunities.

The results revealed that 70 per cent of respondents declared they would like to have access to online learning platforms in order to broaden their skill sets at their own pace.

What makes learning ‘high impact’?

Mr Robb said it was important to understand that not all learning came from formal experiences such as a face-to-face course or an eLearning course.

“The combination of potential learning opportunities is known as an OSF ratio, an on-the-job, social and formal ratio,” he said.

“Many believe that high-impact learning follows an industry norm of 70-20-10, where 10 per cent of learning comes from the coursework or the training you do, 20 per cent comes from relationships and people in the workplace and 70 per cent is putting everything you’ve learnt back into the workplace.

“However, in reality, it could be 40-40-20 or 30-40-30 in some industries.

“The ratio isn’t the issue, it’s realising that only going on a training course or only doing an eLearning course isn’t enough. High-impact learning occurs when that formal learning is taken back to the workplace and implemented, tested, discussed and repeated, becoming the way it’s done.”

Examples of high-impact learning and differences in industries

Whether you work in healthcare, emergency services or transport, Mr Robb said high-impact learning could be interchangeable depending on the job or industry.

“One of the biggest industries is healthcare, an industry in Australia which has dazzlingly complex issues such as a massive shortage of clinical professionals while facing COVID-19 and its variants, among other new diseases or viruses,” he said.

“Much of the healthcare learning and development is practical, hands-on delivery, with a growing use of artificial intelligence-driven simulations, immersive reality learning and virtual reality learning to name just a few.”

A recent article by Healthy Simulation outlined how hands-on training – such as the use of in-situation training – benefits some areas of healthcare better than others.

“In other words, what works best for one group or industry may not work in another, or even in another part of the same industry,” Mr Robb said.

“Other industries that benefit from the highly engaged, highly practical and high-impact approach include defence, emergency services, resources, transport, infrastructure and logistics.”

High-impact learning from the top

In order for high-impact learning to work and in order to engage your staff, Mr Robb said it needed to be implemented by organisational leaders.

“If your leadership team isn’t into believing in learning and development, it’s not going to happen,” he said.

“You have to have commitment right from the top.

“In that 70 per cent of the ratio, you might decide to get people to do a research project or internship and utilise their knowledge and skills from job-related experiences.

“They will then pick up the collaboration and interaction with others in that 20 per cent social side of things and complete a class in that 10 per cent, but you have to have someone championing that from a leadership perspective.”

Train Large Groups

For those wanting to deliver impactful training sessions within the workplace, Mr Robb said AIM WA’s Train Large Groups course equipped professionals with the tools to prepare, deliver and review effective high-impact learning sessions.

“Train Large Groups is about being able to teach and understand in an environment that you’re going into,” he said.

“When we look at our courses, we look at how people actually learn, how we make it active learning and multiple senses learning, and how to break the information down into easier pieces to learn.

“The whole idea of high-impact learning is that you don’t just show people once, it’s about showing them a variety of ways of picking up skills.”

Outcomes of the Train Large Groups course involve identifying learning needs, understanding diversity within a training environment and designing and delivering engaging programs and workshops.

“In this course, you’ll find that people will do things three times. They won’t realise that they’re doing those things three times in different activities and that's one of the key takeaways,” Mr Robb said.

“It’s interactive – it might even be fun. That’s where that impact comes in.

“The whole art of training is being able to look at a group of people and see how to make it relevant to them to have a high-impact outcome.”