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Nudge Learning Tools


July 21, 2020



Nudge Learning | A push notification with SC Training (formerly EdApp) Mobile App


ELearning has become increasingly popular as a learning tool to train employees and students. According to ReportLinker, the global mobile learning market will hit over US 78.5 billion by 2025. This coincides not just with the rise of smartphones and handheld devices, but also the level of dependency individuals place on the technology. According to Marketing Land, 65 per cent of all digital media is viewed on smartphones. And according to DScout, the average person spends nearly three hours on their smartphone each day, touching the screen more than 2,600 times and glancing at it roughly 221 times.  With these numbers in mind, it’s no surprise that eLearning has found a niche market in the mobile world and that it has incorporated elements of microlearning, m learning, spaced repetition and gamification.

With the increasingly remote nature of education and work, academic institutions and employers have needed to rely on online learning platforms to help train employees and teach students. According to Forbes, in 2017, 87 per cent of higher education institutions in Canada and the U.S. reported using some form of elearning development platform. And according to a market analysis by Global Industry Analysts, Inc, 77 per cent of American companies have already used online learning to train their workforce.

Clearly, the willingness on behalf of employers is there, as well as the interest on behalf of participants. But how can we be sure that this willingness and interest translate to action?

Sometimes, a little nudge can go a long way. Nudge theory focuses on positively influencing a behaviour through positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions to shape an individual or group’s learning skills. It encourages employees to make choices purposefully, which engages them in the learning process and makes them a more captive audience.

Nudge Learning | Gamified Templates

Nudge theory and e Learning

Smartphones aren’t just phones anymore. They are clocks, alarms, calculators. They are the gateway to our social selves, and a communication vehicle to friends and family through text, chat, email, or video.

With the rise of eLearning, phones have also become teachers. And research shows that younger employees want to work for businesses that value their growth and even give them the tools necessary to do so. Employee turnover is expensive for employers and over a quarter of surveyed employees cite a lack of opportunities for growth as a key reason for leaving an employer. When it comes down to it, employees like to be offered training, but in-person training sessions are often seen as long, tedious and unproductive. Mobile learning offers learning activities that learners can take anytime and anywhere. Instead of having to plan their day around it, they can instead incorporate it into their routine seamlessly. The issue is that learning apps are competing with all of the other entertaining elements made available through smartphones.

Enter the mighty nudge. In eLearning terms, a ‘nudge’ is exactly what it sounds like: a gentle push delivered through email, text, or even through the free learning software itself.

Let’s take a look at how to make sure nudges are effectively leveraged.

Nudge Theory | Elearning Microlesson

Be clear and concise

A nudge will appear for only a moment in time on a phone’s screen, rarely lasting more than just a few seconds. It is a quick reminder that disappears almost as soon as it is introduced. In this way, it is important when designing nudges that the medium be taken into account, and be designed in a way that maximizes their efficiency. Nudges must be short, sweet, concise, and have a strong call to action in order to motive participants to access the app and complete their training. Long-winded reminders that have no clear goal will be more likely ignored, and the nudges will be deemed useless by participants. 

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Use it to complement corporate goals

Let’s say that a company uses a mobile-based eLearning app or software to coach their employees on products and ensure their baseline knowledge stays up to date. Now, let’s say a new product is about to hit the shelves, or the company has decided to market the product a little differently to stay on top of market trends. By sending a gentle nudge to employees through the corporate training app, managers can ensure that employees are browsing the training materials that best meet an immediate corporate goal or need. Mobile training is effective because it is near-instantaneous in reaching everyone. Nudges are a great way to remind people to take new training materials made available.

Nudge theory in higher education

While nudge theory was born in education technology, the concept also has a place in higher education. In fact, Gartner identified nudge theory as one of the top 10 strategic technologies impacting higher education. The leading research and advisory company defines it as “a collection of technologies that work together to achieve timely personalized interaction with students, staff, and faculty, such as just-in-time text (SMS) reminders for class.” And these technologies can include chatbots, texts, LMS, AI, and algorithmic analytics, to name a few. When applied correctly, introducing nudge theory in a higher education environment can be just as appropriate and successful as adaptive learning in corporate training.

Use it strategically

People forget things. It’s a fact of life that if information is not repeated or revised often enough, previously encoded memories will begin to fade. Encouraging your employees to use learning apps is a moot point if they don’t periodically repeat the information in order to ensure it is retained.

This is known as the decay or ‘forgetting’ curve. A typical “forgetting curve” hypothesizes that participants tend to forget more than 50% of their newly learned material 20 minutes immediately after the lesson ends, and keeps increasing until only a quarter can be recalled after a month’s time if no revision or repeat learning takes place.

In this way, nudges can be used strategically to remind employees to revise information they’ve already learned, and thus fend off the forgetting curve while keeping the information fresh in their minds.

Leverage the available data

A benefit of mobile-based learning experience is that employers can gather a trove of data from their employee’s training habits. This data can then be used to create better training modules and instructional design that are relevant and interesting to the workforce.

But this individualized data can also be coupled with Artificial Intelligence to predict when it is most likely that nudges will work, what kind of nudges are effective for which employees, and how many nudges in a row it takes to result in engagement. This way, employees can learn from their training materials, while employers learn from them.

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Are you interested in learning more about the benefits of just-in-time learning and how nudges can be applied to your existing learning management system? Visit SC Training (formerly EdApp) today to see how they can help. SC Training (formerly EdApp)’s multi-award-winning mobile app is the new standard in eLearning and offers support for SCORM authoring, microlearning, mobile learning, spaced repetition (by request only) and gamification quizzes.


Tiffany Lafleur Guest Author

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