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What is ‘Subscription Learning’?

It's 3:00pm and you have been stuck inside a stuffy classroom ALL day. How much learning do you think you are doing at this point?


We have all been there - taken a course and it’s almost the minute you leave you forget everything you have learned. You are not alone, it’s more common than you think!

Training professionals struggle with this when they are developing their content. It is a challenge to try and create the perfect training session that will be interactive, keep the interest of the learners and more importantly, they will leave with new information that they found useful! 

What is the forgetting curve?

German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus studied student information retention. His discovery: information is exponentially forgotten from the time learners consume it. He developed what is called the forgetting curve – it demonstrates how memory retention declines over time, how information is lost over time when there is no attempt to retain it. If the topic at hand is not appealing to learners then how can we expect them to sit there listen, understand, and retain what they are learning.

If your sessions are ‘too long’ or ‘boring’ or the learner believes that there is no real significant value, we know it will just be a waste of time not only for the learner but the instructor as well. 

The easy answer: replace classroom learning with e-learning.

But is that enough? It is a good start for sure but if it is not done properly it can have the same effect as classroom learning. Our suggestion to you is to try treating your learners as “subscribers” and spread learning over time. 

The idea of Subscription Learning comes from Will Thalheimer, a learning expert, researcher, instructional designer. Thalheimer describes subscription as “an intermittent stream of learning-related interactions to those who are subscribed”. He describes these ‘learning-related interactions’ as nuggets. He says they should be short, something that you can present in no more than five minutes. 

The idea is for the learner to subscribe to these nuggets, which Thalheimer calls threads. Think of them as tips, something that you sign up for and each week you get a new tip. Throughout that week, you practice the tip that was learned, incorporating into your daily tasks. The following week you learn a new tip, repeating the same method. 

The concept of subscription learning is that over a pre-determined amount of time, these short learning events will become natural, second nature. 

At Alliance Learning we are incorporating this method into our online courses.

We don’t want our learners to sit in front of a computer for hours at a time, trying to stay focused to ensure they don’t miss anything. The last thing we want is for our courses to be overwhelming – to the point that your mind is just full of information, you lose it! 

Our courses are short and only focus at the topic at hand. And you want to know what the best part is – if you stop half way through, you can pick up right where you left off! We are working on creating content that everyone will enjoy, skills that anyone can take with them no matter what industry you are in. 

We have lots in the works so stick with us, because things are just about to get exciting!