According to the Neuroleadership Institute’s CEO David Rock virtual learning is more effective at helping people change behaviours than in-person learning. Given the cost of in-person learning, the time away from “work”, and the ability to expose more people to helpful knowledge faster the following results are impressive:

“We found that the average behavior change percentage (BCP) of our own in-person workshops was 54%. That’s a strong result: Getting half a large audience to do something new each week, several weeks after a learning experience, is no easy feat. And yet, the same content delivered virtually had a BCP of 84%.

Out of curiosity, we also captured and averaged net promoter scores (NPS), which measure the likelihood of people encouraging others to engage in such learning. Any score above zero is considered good, and online deliveries had an NPS of +12, while in-person events averaged -6.

To simplify, this means virtual learning in our case was over 50% more effective than in-person learning at driving real behavioral change. Imagine a workforce of 10,000 employees. That means that 8,400 individuals would change how they work with a virtual experience, compared to only 5,400 if the learning was done in person. And that’s before we even think about the costs, effort, and disruption associated with bringing 10,000 people together in person.

Why does learning virtually work so well for cultivating new habits? To start, learning in small chunks over time allows you to learn one thing, apply it, and then come back and learn the next thing. This can’t happen during an in-person workshop, where you leave with pages of to-do’s. Second, the act of spacing learning out has a strong positive effect on memory, meaning even a one-time virtual workshop wouldn’t be as effective. And finally, learning over time, especially if the learning is made to be social in nature, increases the likelihood you’ll take some kind of action. When we did a thought experiment that looked at the effectiveness of a single, three-hour workshop delivered online or in-person versus three, one-hour events over three weeks, we concluded that people on average took seven times as many actions.

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