How do you explain learning transfer in a nutshell?

If you’re new to Learning & Development and maybe think your daily focus will be on administering training courses and learning content, it’s important that you familiarise yourself with learning transfer. Here is a simple way to think about it…

Imagine for a moment that you have attended a First Aid at Work course. You learn the theory, the instructor shows you how to deal with a burnt finger or accident scene in a workshop, tells a story to visualise the scene and then lets you practice on one of the other attendees. You then get through a test demonstration of your new skill at the end, you even remembered to call the ambulance before doing anything else. Great course and you’re ready to deal with incidents back at work. Right?

No… because you get back and the first time something happens you ask your colleagues in a panic where the first aid kit is.

Practicing the new knowledge at work

What should have happened when you returned to work is a debrief by another first aider and some tasks to ensure you can apply what you learned when an emergency happens. That will enable learning transfer.

Task one might send you off to find out where the first aid kit is and get you to check the content. Is anything missing? Are there any items that are out of date? The second task might ask you to familiarise yourself with the company’s accident procedure and write up an example log for the accident book. And so on. At the end of each activity the manager in charge of all the first aiders can ensure you have acquired the necessary “local” knowledge. So now when something happens you can go back to the skills you learned on the training course, and do your job as a first aider efficiently.

These actions, often called activity-based learning, shouldn’t be left to chance. They need to be set up in a sequence that can be rolled out to every first aider, new and existing, in the organisation. This is where you as a people professional come in, as it’s the responsibility of L&D, in collaboration with all stakeholders, to design and deliver the activities required to ensure learning transfer and make sure people can and do use their new knowledge and skills on the job.

Technology to ensure learning transfer

If you have a number of people to put through the same process, you will require learning software to drive the process which ensures learning transfer and that your first aiders are ready in case of an accident. If the organisation already has a Learning Management Systems (LMS) or other popular platforms like LXPs it’s important to realise that they are content-based rather than activity-based and typically won’t be able to manage the activities required for the process of learning transfer. The learning technology required is a Learning Transfer Platform (LTP).

Read about the difference here.

The People Alchemy LTP does just that: it provides a platform to manage a repeatable process, involves the manager or mentor, and speeds up the time to proficiency either wrapped around a training course or stand alone. Simple, right?

Further reading to get started with learning transfer…

The first steps to effective learning transfer