A step-by-step guide to choosing the perfect learning model for your customer education program

Choosing the right learning model for your software education program really hinges on knowing your product and your users. The feature complexity, variety of use cases, average count of licensed users within an organization (penetration), and user demographics all matter immensely.  Accounting for the right variables and then pulling from established learning models will help you design for impact. Applying the same models used by L&D teams to onboard and train employees to Customer Education is a futile effort – software training just isn’t the same as compliance training or soft skill development.

1. Constructivist learning

Constructivism poses that learners construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experiences and reflection on those experiences. When applied to customer education, this looks like: 

  • Experiential learning: Encourage learners to use the software in a controlled environment where they can experiment and learn from their errors. 
  • Problem-based learning (PBL): This involves presenting users with a real-world problem that requires using the software to solve. PBL is highly effective in making the learning applicable and memorable. 

2. Cognitive load theory

This theory focuses on the amount of information that the working memory can hold at one time. Software training designed with cognitive load theory in mind should: 

  • Simplify information: Break down information into bite-sized, manageable chunks that do not overwhelm the learner. 
  • Integrated instructional materials: Use multimedia materials that integrate instructional content with practical application tips, reducing the need for learners to split their attention. 

3. Social learning theory 

Social learning theory emphasizes learning through observation, imitation, and modeling. Its implications for software training include: 

  • Community-driven learning: Utilize forums, user groups, or social media platforms where experienced users can share their knowledge and novices can learn through observation.
  • Live demonstrations and webinars: These can facilitate real-time learning and interaction, which can be particularly engaging for users. 

4. The ADDIE Model 

ADDIE—Analysis, design, development, implementation, evaluation—is a systematic approach to learning and development that ensures training programs are efficient and effective: 

  • Analysis: Assess the training needs related to the software to determine what the users need to learn. 
  • Design and Development: Create content that addresses these needs in an accessible and engaging manner. 
  • Implementation: Deliver this content using the most appropriate tools and techniques. 
  • Evaluation: Regularly assess both the training program and software usage metrics to refine learning materials continuously. 

5. Flipped classroom 

The flipped classroom is a form of blended learning where instructional content is primarily delivered outside of the classroom (or virtual session), through pre-recorded videos or readings. Class time, or live sessions, are then used to deepen understanding through discussion and problem-solving activities. In customer education, flipped classrooms include: 

  • Pre-class learning: Users can learn at their own pace outside of scheduled training sessions. 
  • Interactive sessions: Use live time more for applying knowledge and engaging in hands-on activities that reinforce learning. 

6. Microlearning

Microlearning involves delivering content in small, specific bursts that learners can easily digest and apply quickly. It is especially effective for busy professionals who may not have extended periods available for training. Think of: 

  • Short modules: Design training content to be completed in short segments (5-10 minutes), focusing on one specific feature or function of the software. 
  • Just-in-time learning: Provide these modules just when the user needs them, such as when a new feature is released.

Choosing the right model 

The choice of a learning model should be tailored to the software’s complexity, the user's skill level, and the software's role in their daily tasks. For instance, critical software used in healthcare may need structured models like PBL and ADDIE for thorough understanding, while creative tools could benefit from more flexible approaches like constructivism and microlearning.  

BrainStorm is the external LMS that can support any learning model 

Ultimately, the right educational approach helps users not only learn the software initially but also master it over time. The BrainStorm platform offers customer education teams total flexibility to design learning that best suits their product, audience, and juncture in the customer journey. See how it works here.