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What's a 'Whisper Course', how is Google using it to boost employee learning

What is Google Whisper Course?

The theory behind Google whisper course was that employees needed a reminder to put their learning into practice. For example, there will be no more classes. So, they’d send a series of emails with short form content to managers, reminding them of the tasks they needed to complete to implement their training.

These reminders are delivered as a quick whisper into a manager’s ear, hence the name ‘Whisper Course.’ According to Google, managers improved their culture over ten weeks by implementing these whisper suggestions.

Google uses whisper courses for on-the-job microlearning, from coaching to inclusion. Short, spaced lessons may help busy people retain essential information. Implementing real change is hard when you leave a course overwhelmed with information. Because you encourage stepwise change, it’s a slow, steady progression of understanding how to evolve work.

Google Whisper – Bite-sized learning for Knowledge Retention

Within a day or two, people tend to forget 50% of what they’ve learned. So, when Google’s learning and development team was tasked with teaching thousands of employees about fostering a psychologically safe team culture, it was time to look beyond the traditional classrooms.

To begin with, let’s consider microlearning, which involves bite-sized lessons. Google uses microlearning to encourage managers to act on their survey results. For example, managers see a whisper lesson in their lowest-scoring management behavior. Google managers who received a whisper lesson improved by 22-40% in the following survey compared to a control group, leading the company to implement whisper courses as a standard practice for manager survey results distribution.

Today we will learn about google whisper and how it has evolved along the lines of the microlearning concept of spaced repetition to enhance your workforce’s knowledge retention capacity. Keep reading!

What is Microlearning?

Microlearning is more than just a collection of bite-sized training materials. Instead, it is focused and provides the exact information to assist a learner in achieving a specific, actionable performance goal. Other types of training, on the other hand, frequently take place outside of learners’ daily lives, making it more difficult to apply knowledge to specific on-the-job goals.

Microlearning techniques allow learners to choose and use assets most relevant to their current needs on whatever device is most convenient, making training even more relevant to their jobs. This learner-centred approach boosts engagement, improves training and job efficiency, and encourages learners to seek additional training.

What is in the Google Whisper emails?

The emails are through which the whispers are carried out throughout the organization. The emails would provide suggestions for what managers should say to improve the workplace culture. “I noticed you’re [doing X] and appreciate your efforts,” for example. You brought up a thought-provoking point because of [X].” Other “whisper” emails included information on how to be more present in meetings, build trust and improve feedback.

Today, Google is using whispers for microlearning across a variety of topics. The fact that whisper courses are task-based is a massive plus for employees. This is because sitting through training can leave you feeling overloaded with information. The whisper course made it simple for students to take small steps to put their learning into practice and fully comprehend the topics they had just learned.

“Microlearning helps learners retain knowledge and promotes content engagement.”

What are the advantages of Microlearning for corporates?

Assists in the reduction of cognitive overload

Employees can access small bits of information instead of consuming large amounts of data. This prevents cognitive overload, allowing them to absorb and assimilate the most critical points. As a result, they can acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to overcome the challenge before moving on to the next. In addition, Microlearning does not overburden working memory, which can only hold a certain amount of data. As a result, the brain can process the information and connect it to previously acquired knowledge.

Enhances Knowledge Retention and Recall

This is related to the first benefit, as less cognitive overload leads to better knowledge retention and recall. Because they have the opportunity to reflect on and evaluate the information, employees are more likely to remember what they’ve learned. In addition, they can see how it relates to real-world applications and contextualize it. Microlearning, as a result, defies the “forgetting curve”, particularly when used as a reinforcement tool.

Assists in “Moment of Need” situations

Because Microlearning is bite-sized and easily accessible, it’s ideal for “just in time” online training. It’s also focused on a specific topic. Each Microlearning online training resource concentrates on a single topic, task, or learning goal. There isn’t enough time to go over everything; only the essentials will be covered. However, it would help if you considered creating mobile-friendly microlearning materials for modern corporate learners. They must be able to access online training tutorials, simulations, and videos anytime and from any location.

Enhances employee motivation and engagement

Employees have access to the information they require in a timely and convenient manner. As a result, they can troubleshoot issues, overcome challenges, and expand their knowledge. Furthermore, the Microlearning online training experience provides real-world value, so they are more engaged and motivated. It also considers employees’ short attention spans, preventing boredom and reducing distractions.

It helps you save time and money

The above advantages lead to one significant benefit: lower corporate training costs and time. Employees can concentrate on their performance and skill gaps. As a result, they increase workplace productivity more quickly and effectively. Your employees can use what they’ve learned right away to complete tasks and fulfil their responsibilities.

Why does Google use Whisper Courses?

When managers receive their survey results on how they’re doing as a manager, Google now uses microlearning to nudge them to take action. In their survey results, managers see a whisper lesson relevant to the lowest-scoring management behavior.

Internal analysis revealed that Google managers who received a whisper lesson improved their behavior in the following survey by 22-40 percentage points compared to a control group, prompting Google to make whisper courses a standard practice for distributing manager survey results.

Google has used whisper courses to support on-the-job microlearning on various topics, including coaching and inclusion. These short, spaced lessons may help people remember what’s essential when busy. “I love that it was practice-focused,” one Googler said.

It’s common to leave a course feeling overwhelmed with information, making it difficult to make a lasting change. Instead, it feels like a slow, steady progression of understanding how you can evolve the way you work because you’re encouraging stepwise change.”

How can you implement it?

Begin by reviewing the results of your previous psychological safety quiz to see where your team needs to improve. Then create a safe environment where people could discuss their concerns.

You should be able to target the skills and behaviors affecting your team’s psychological safety by digging more deeply than surface-level reasons and assumptions. Therefore, your whisper courses should focus on these skills and behaviors.

Putting together a framework

Create an email template and set a schedule after determining which skills and behaviors we need to recognize. Focusing on one skill series over four weeks has proven to be the most effective for some, with each employee receiving a whisper on the first Monday of each month explaining the skill and its importance.

Following that, weekly homework relating to items that feed into said skill is assigned every Monday. Finally, during Friday’s Team Talk, team members are held accountable for sharing their results. Google has created a template that you can use to create your whisper course, which you can find here.

The bottom line

Build an online resource library to incorporate microlearning/google whisper courses into your corporate eLearning strategy. Your employees can easily access online training materials with a microlearning repository. Categorize the library so employees can find what they need. Include links to online microlearning resources.

The goal is to make skill-building and professional development easy. You can even invite corporate learners to create their online training resources. This helps them gain experience and understanding while expanding your repository quickly. Sometimes microlearning isn’t the best. It may benefit corporate learners, however. When offering remote employees bite-sized online training resources vs a heap, helping is key.

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