Remove the Sting of Compliance Courses: Make Them Short, Succinct, Easy to Learn

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Remove the Sting of Compliance Courses: Make Them Short, Succinct, Easy to Learn

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More often than not, compliance courses have received a bad rap and reputation. The main complaint is that compliance courses are just “clicking boxes to meet lawyers’ needs.” As the perception persists, part of the blame is caused by designers, trainers, and leaders abandoning the “learning side” of compliance. Consequently, these courses have been relegated to the category of being necessary evils. I am not giving up on compliance courses. From what I know of compliance courses, the intent is to protect people’s lives, reduce costs, avoid fraudulence, keep our environments safe, and many others. Without good compliance courses, we are all at risk.

Recently, I spoke at the ATD (Association of Talent Development) Conference in Las Vegas on the topic of Micro-Compliance Learning. My goal was to share how to remove the sting of compliance courses by making them short and easier to learn.

Key Principles of Micro-Compliance

  1. Shorten compliance courses by focusing on the most important lesson.
  2. The average time of a lesson is 2-3 minutes.
  3. Relegate readings of policies and procedures as reference links. You can still track these readings by using a tracking device when learners scroll the page.
  4. Invest in the lesson story and not in a series of long slideshows about the policies with just text.
  5. Deliver the micro-lessons in smaller bits and pieces, weekly, daily, or spaced over time.

Answers to Questions and Concerns about Micro-Lessons


At the conference, it was interesting to have participants raise challenging questions yet, at the same time, offer answers and solutions.

1. “What if it is required that learners must read pages?”

The cheaper way is not to put lengthy policies and government rules in long, narrated slideshows. Keep them in PDFs or text that learners can scroll through and still track if learners have done so.

2. “Is it enough to focus on the story and some important parts of the lessons?”

This approach engages learners and helps them to remember better as well as apply ideas at work.

Overloading learners will likely bring results, although records show they simply clicked through all pages in typically long or very long lessons.

3. “But our lessons must be learned in 2 hours. Lawyers require this.”

Let learners focus on key ideas, like the examples, and then let them do additional activities and readings to consume the hours. By doing this, you are not boring the learners.

4. “We are required to test for knowledge retention and compliance.”

In most cases, this works. However, oftentimes, this encourages the learners “to game” or “cheat” the system. True or false and multiple choice types of tests are clicked repeatedly for a trial and error approach just to complete the test. Asking learners to write something may also help them to reflect on their understanding of the lesson. There are authoring ways to provide feedback to learners without having someone track all the answers.

5. “How can you deliver compliance training by spacing out lessons?”

Learners are busy and would welcome receiving maybe once a day or once a week, a 2-3-minute micro-compliance lesson. Most compliance courses are repeated once a year, and to avoid the yearly end rush, advanced spaced out lessons are usually convenient.


Compliance courses are often the first line of defense to keep companies compliant. It does not mean, however, that we relegate these courses to data dumps and verification of scanning pages. They can be made engaging and short and help learners learn important contributions of compliance courses.

Recommended training from HRDQ-U

How to Make Compliance and Technical eLearning Engaging
Ray Jimenez
Ray Jimenez

Ray Jimenez has spent 15 years with PriceWaterhouseCoopers in the areas of management consulting and implementation of learning technology solutions. Currently, Ray is the Chief Learning Strategist for Vignette Learning. Ray has worked with the American Bankers Association, Dollar Tree Stores, U.S. Force, NASA, Blue Cross, Goodwill Industries, Pixar Studios, California Institute of Technology, and many others. Ray is the author of 3-Minute e-Learning, Scenario-Based eLearning, Micro-Learning Applications and Impacts and Story Impacts: Using Stories and Systems to Impact Performance. Workshop participants describe Ray as fun, engaging, technically savvy, provocative, inspiring, and say he “has depth in e-learning experience and innovation solutions.”

Connect with Ray on LinkedIn.

Recommended Training from HRDQ-U
How to Make Compliance and Technical eLearning Engaging

Shift your learning strategy focus to consider the learner’s experience to create engaging eLearning compliance and technical training.

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