The Power of the Short Course
Short courses are an under-utilised training tool in many organisations. They can be incredibly powerful, particularly when combined with the general benefits of e-learning courses. This includes the fact that learners don’t have to travel to complete the course.
In other words, it might be hard to justify getting someone to travel for an hour or two to complete a 30-minute training session. Getting that person to complete a 30-minute (or shorter) e-learning course at their own location, however, makes perfect sense.
What Are Short Courses?
A standard long-form course will usually cover several topics or skills. Shorter courses are much more focused, i.e. on a single topic and a smaller number of objectives. As they are not covering as much information, they take less time to complete.
For example, a standard long-form course could be:
Improving the Sales Process from Initial Lead to Completed Sale
A short course, however, could be:
Getting the Face-to-Face: How to Improve Client Meeting Success Rates
The first, longer course would cover strategies and techniques the sales person can use to secure the first meeting with a potential client. However, this will be one part of the course. In the second example, getting the client meeting is the sole topic.
Why Are Short Courses So Beneficial?
When considering this question, I often think of business meetings. You have probably been in meetings that are long and drawn out. In those meetings, you get a lot of information but you also often struggle to give it your full attention while wondering is it really necessary for it to be so long.
In short meetings, however, there is less tolerance for time wasting, repetition, and speaking for speaking’s sake. There is much more focus on the objectives of the meeting so the objectives are easier to meet. In addition, you feel like you accomplish more in a short meeting than you do in a long one.
Almost all this applies to short courses as well. Below are the specific benefits.
Benefits of Short Courses
- Learners are more attentive – it is difficult for a learner to stay attentive and engaged in a long course. When they are not attentive, they don’t learn effectively.
- Gives you more focus – this applies when developing the course. Making the course short forces you to focus more clearly on what is really important. This includes removing anything that is not necessary and getting straight to the point. Doing this not only shortens the course but also improves the quality.
- Improves success rate – long courses usually have multiple objectives. When creating a short course, on the other hand, you must focus on fewer outcomes. This increases success rates.
- Better engagement – it is more likely the learner will complete the course when it is short plus they will be more engaged with the content as they go through it.
- Improves the quality of your team – short courses are a cost-effective way of providing ongoing professional development for the members of your team.
- Continuous improvement culture – when used right, short courses can establish and foster a culture of continuous improvement in your organization. You do this by creating short and sharp courses on a regular and consistent basis.
Tips for Creating Short Courses
- Narrow the objectives – don’t try to cover too much content. Instead, focus on one or two skills or objectives.
- Properly organise – plan out and storyboard the course so you can see how everything fits together. Start removing anything that is not necessary.
- Edit – get the first draft of the course written and then edit it to make all the sentences and paragraphs shorter.
- Personalise – make sure you target the course at learners who each have similar knowledge levels and job roles.
- Remove all repetition – strategically reinforcing concepts, skills, or information is okay, but repetition is not.
- Remove fluff – strip out any fluff as well. For example, at the start of the course, remove long-winded greetings or explanations of what the course is about.
- Be careful not to over-explain – this is easy to do but it will make your course long-winded. Remove anything you believe is too much.
- Don’t use words – images, video, and infographics can almost always explain an idea, skill, or concept in less time than words.
- Break the course into bite-size modules – break your already short course into even shorter modules. This helps you get straight to the point and helps you remove repetition.
Ultimately, short courses improve retention rates and make it easier to achieve specific objectives. They are, therefore, a highly effective training tool to use.